Barbados laws require that tenants are provided substantial notice and opportunities to cure arrears before an eviction will be approved. Landlords must follow specific steps in order to evict a tenant. The entire process could last up to six months, though when followed strictly, a tenant could be out in as little as three months.
The antiquated Landlord and Tenant Act was written in 1897. To further confuse landlords and tenants, it includes provisions where livestock or crops may be seized. These simple steps though must be followed in order for a landlord to legally evict a tenant.
Notice to Quit
Landlords who intend to force out a tenant prior to termination of the lease agreement must supply a Notice to Quit to the tenant. By serving the notice, a landlord supplies official notice to a tenant that they would like for the tenant to vacate. The Notice to Quit may be delivered personally or using a process server.
This first step is important for two reasons.
- Tenants deserve to receive ample notice whenever the landlord expects them to vacate the property. Even if tenants are late, it is necessary for them to understand the situation and provide prior notice so that they may begin to seek alternate living arrangements.
- The Notice to Quit establishes the beginning of the ejectment process. This process ensures protection of the tenant’s rights. If a landlord fails to follow this step, their eventual request for forced ejectment may be denied.
Tenants generally have a month to respond to the Notice to Quit, although the exact time period can depend on the length of the tenancy or lease. Tenants who remain in the home after this time period and fail to correct any causes for concern (such as payment of arrears) are deemed to be holding over.
Notice of Intention to apply to the court for eviction
Tenants who are holding over may subsequently be served with a Notice of Intention to apply to the court. A fourteen day grace period applies once the tenant has been served.
Landlords cannot apply with the courts until this time period has commenced fully. This delay allows for a tenant to take action either to plan for a move or to fight the eviction.
Application to magistrates’ court to recover possession
After the fourteenth day, the landlord may file a request for the magistrate to order ejectment of the tenant from the premises. The application must include court costs and documentation that proves that the landlord supplied the tenant with ample notice. Copies of the two required notices usually accompany a completed application. Landlords must file the application in the same district where the property is located.
A date for the magistrate to rule on the case is scheduled. The actual date can vary depending on the volume of other cases currently under consideration.
Tenants are able to attend the hearing and provide evidence in protest of eviction. The magistrate can deny the request if sufficient reason is provided to rule in favor of the tenant.
They may also grant an ejectment order. Even with the order, magistrates may exercise some leniency on behalf of the tenant. A further grace period of no more than two months may be authorised if deemed to be appropriate.
Absent tenant representation in the hearing, a warrant may be issued that grants the eviction. If the tenant cannot be located, then notice of the eviction order may be posted conspicuously at the residence.
Any landlord that accepts a rent payment must restart the steps for eviction in order for the process to be legally binding. A request for eviction order where the steps were not followed can be denied by the court. While most evictions can be concluded in three to six months, there are some situations in which tenants were holding over for nearly a year.
Tenants should be aware that they have many rights that are protected by the law. If the proper notices were not delivered, a tenant may assert their rights by showing up in court to inform the magistrate the the proper notifications were skipped. This can cause the case to be thrown out, starting the process all over again.
If a landlord is pursuing an eviction due to nonpayment of rent, there are options for preventing the eviction. These may include receiving grant aid or even obtaining a loan to cover a temporary gap in income. Often landlords are willing to work with a tenant if it means that they can get caught back up on rent without having to endure a lengthy notification period and court battle.