8 March 2023
When a rental agreement for a property ends, the tenant must vacate the property. They are then no longer entitled to stay in the property.
The tenant will often leave the property voluntarily. For example, when the rental agreement ends after the expiry of the agreed rental period (fixed term). Or after the parties have both agreed to the termination (mutual consent). However, the tenant may also refuse to leave the property. The landlord is then faced with a difficult situation. They will have to apply to the courts for the termination of the rental agreement and a court order to evict the tenant. In the following, I discuss the clearance of a property and discuss two options for termination of the rental agreement and subsequent eviction.
The first option to terminate the rental agreement is when the landlord has given the tenant notice of termination but the tenant does not agree. The law states that the landlord can terminate a rental agreement on six grounds. One such ground for termination is if the tenant fails to prove themselves to be a good tenant, such as by illegally subletting the property. Another is if the landlord requires the property so urgently themselves that continuation of the rental agreement cannot be demanded.
The landlord must send the notice of termination to the tenant by registered letter. In this letter, they must state the grounds on which they are terminating the rental agreement, and on which date. The landlord must give at least three to six months’ notice of termination, depending on the term of the rental agreement. The tenant then has six weeks to agree to the termination. If the tenant does not do so, the landlord must apply to the courts to have the rental agreement terminated. The courts will assess whether the landlord has properly terminated the rental agreement and whether they have done so for valid reasons If that is the case, the court will determine the date on which the rental agreement ends and the tenant must vacate the property.
Another option to end the rental agreement is termination for breach of contract. The landlord may claim termination of the rental agreement for breach of contract if the tenant has not fulfilled their obligations under the rental agreement or the law. For example, the landlord can claim termination for breach of contract if the tenant has not paid the rent for at least three months.
In principle, a landlord must apply to the courts to have the rental agreement terminated for breach of contract. He is not able to do this alone. The courts will only grant termination for breach of contract if the tenant has failed so seriously to fulfil their obligations as to justify this. The decision to terminate a rental agreement for breach of contract is not taken lightly. In doing so, the courts also have the power to offer the tenant a ‘terme de graçe’. This is a very last chance to fulfil their obligations within a certain period of time. If the tenant fulfils his obligations within that period, the termination for breach of contract is avoided, and the rental agreement continues. If the tenant fails to do so, termination of contract will take effect and the tenant will have to vacate the property.
The aforementioned proceedings to terminate a rental agreement can be lengthy. Sometimes the landlord does not want to await the outcome of such proceedings on the merits. For example, when the tenant causes serious and persistent nuisance.
In that case, the landlord can initiate preliminary relief proceedings. In which, in anticipation of these proceedings on the merits to terminate the rental agreement, they claim the eviction of the property in advance. However, a claim for eviction in preliminary relief proceedings will only be upheld by the courts if they consider it likely that the courts will grant the claim for termination of the rental agreement in subsequent proceedings on the merits. Moreover, a prerequisite of this is that the landlord has an urgent interest in the eviction. This will make it impossible to await the decision of proceedings on the merits. It is up to the landlord to make this plausible. If the landlord succeeds in this, they can have the property vacated even before the rental agreement is terminated.
The ruling in which the court determines that the tenant must vacate the property is called an eviction order. This eviction order allows the landlord to have the property vacated by a bailiff. At their request, the bailiff will have the eviction order served to the tenant. This involves the bailiff handing the tenant the order and giving him one last chance to vacate the property voluntarily. The bailiff gives notice of the eviction. If the tenant does not voluntarily vacate the property within the stipulated period, the bailiff may proceed with eviction. The costs of eviction will be recovered from the tenant.
Would you like to know more about a property eviction or termination of a rental agreement? Then please do not hesitate to contact me or one of the other specialists at GMW advocaten.
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