The tenants in a property I own have not paid the rent for three months and are refusing to leave. Can I legally change the locks on the house when they are out?
The tenants probably occupy the property on the terms of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. There are anti-eviction laws in existence to prevent landlords from excluding tenants from residential property without having first followed the repossession procedure specified by the Housing Acts.
If your tenants are three months in arrears you are entitled to immediately apply to the Court for an Order for Possession, although the likelihood is that by the time the statutory procedure and timescales are followed the six months terms of the tenancy may well be close to expiring in any event.
However, the court proceedings will also entitle you to obtain a money judgement against the tenant for the arrears, in addition to an Order for Possession of the property. Failure to follow this specified procedure will render you in serious breach of the Anti-Eviction Laws.
You should immediately consult a solicitor who will prepare the appropriate notices of Intention to Issue Possession Proceedings. Until these notices are served on the tenant the strict statutory timescales will not begin.