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Hi, I’m Lea and I will be assisting you with your query today.
I am very sorry to hear about your dilemma, but will do my best to provide you with advice and guidance on what to do next. Is this a self contained flat rented on an assured shorthold tenancy, or a room in the landlord's own home?
The following is useful info to assist you with the site:
I am sorry to inform you that it is indeed illegal for you to change the locks on the door whether the tenant is paying rent or not. If you want to evict them for rent arrears you have to take the appropriate route, which is to serve a s8 notice using the relevant grounds that pertain to the situation. E.g. if the tenant is more than 6 months in arrears you can use ground 8, which is a mandatory claim and if the tenant remains six months in arrears at the time of the hearing, the possession order is guaranteed.
However, since serving notice at present requires six months notice to be given, unless the tenant is six months or more in arrears, serving a s8 is no quicker than serving a s21 (you can serve both). If the tenant is six months in arrears, serve a s8, ground 8 - and the notice period reduces to 4 weeks. Any less than that in arrears and you have to give six months notice.
I strongly suggest you give the tenant a key as what you have done is called illegal eviction and the penalties you will be made to pay if your tenant decides to sue can be huge...the longer he/she has been denied the property, the more money you will pay in damages.
If the tenant has been anti-social you can try to evict on these grounds too, potentially grounds 12,13 or 14.
I would strongly suggest you see a solicitor to issue notice if the tenant is causing serious problems as the notice period for this type of claim can be much shorter than explained above.