Tenant Evictions: A Guide for Landlords in England
This FAQ guide aims to provide answers to frequently asked questions in relation to possession of residential properties let on Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England for private landlords.
How do I legally evict my tenant?
As a landlord of an assured shorthold tenancy in England, if the tenancy does not end by mutual consent, you have two routes to recover possession of your property:
- Section 21 (No Fault Notice); and
- Section 8 Notice.
Am I entitled to serve a Section 21 Notice?
A Section 21 Notice (which refers to Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998) is commonly referred to as the ‘No Fault’ Notice as you do not have to provide any reason or show any default on the part of the tenant when you serve a Section 21 Notice.
If a landlord serves a valid notice on a tenant, the court must make a possession order.
There are various preconditions which must be complied with as otherwise the Section 21 Notice may be invalid. A section 21 notice might be invalid if the landlord:
- Did not serve the Section 21 Notice correctly
- Did not comply with the tenancy deposit rules
- Failed to provide an energy performance certificate (EPC) or gas safety certificate
- Failed to provide the How to Rent guide
- Does not have a licence for the property where required, or has not applied for a licence
- Took a banned fee by charging a prohibited payment or retaining a holding deposit
- Served the notice after a complaint about the property (retaliatory eviction). Landlords should ensure that they are not acting in breach of the Retaliatory Eviction and the Deregulation Act 2015 by serving a notice after receiving complaints.
How much notice do I need to give?
In England, a Section 21 notice must give your tenants at least 2 months’ notice to leave your property.
A landlord may need to give a longer notice period if you have a ‘contractual’ periodic tenancy. This is a fixed term tenancy that has ended but included a clause to continue as a periodic tenancy.
If the 2-month notice period on a section 21 notice has expired, can I re-enter the Property?
No. The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it an offence to evict your tenant from a residential property without a court order.
Once a section 21 notice has expired, provided that all the relevant preconditions are satisfied, you can apply to Court using the accelerated possession procedure. The accelerated possession procedure allows a landlord to get a possession order without a hearing if there is no dispute over the facts of the case.
Will I be able to serve a section 21 notice once the new Renters Reform Bill comes into force?
The Renters Reform Bill is proposing to scrap the Section 21 procedure (and accelerated possession procedure) altogether.
If I can’t serve a section 21 notice, what notice shall I serve?
Under the Housing Act 1988, a Section 8 notice can be used to end a shorthold tenancy before the contract comes to an end.
Section 8 notices can only be issued if tenants have breached the terms of their tenancy in some way, for example, if tenants:
- Are in arrears of rent.
- Have damaged the property.
- Gained the tenancy by providing false information about themselves.
- Become a nuisance to neighbours.
- Have used the property for criminal activities.
There are mandatory grounds where the court must grant possession:
- Ground 1: The Landlord requires possession as he used to occupy the property as his main home, or he now wishes to occupy the property as his main home.
- Ground 2: The property is subject to a mortgage and the mortgagee is now entitled to exercise a power of sale.
- Ground 3: The tenancy is a fixed term of not more than 8 months and the property was previously a holiday let.
- Ground 4: The tenancy is a fixed term of not more than 12 months and the property is student accommodation let out of term.
- Ground 5: The property is that of a minister of religion.
- Ground 6: The property requires redevelopment.
- Ground 7: The tenant has died.
- Ground 8: The tenant is in rental arrears.
There are also discretionary grounds where the Court may grant possession:
- Ground 9: Suitable alternative accommodation is available for the tenant upon possession.
- Ground 10: The tenant is in arrears of rent.
- Ground 11: The tenant has persistently delayed paying rent, whether or not the rent is currently in arrears.
- Ground 12: Any obligation of the tenancy has been broken, other than payment of rent.
- Ground 13: Due to the tenant’s conduct, the property has deteriorated.
- Ground 14: The tenant is causing a nuisance or annoyance to people residing at the property or visiting the property. The tenant is convicted in engaging in illegal or using the property for immoral purposes.
- Ground 15: The tenant has allowed the landlords’ furniture to deteriorate due to ill-treatment.
- Ground 16: The tenant occupies the property due to his former employment by the landlord.
- Ground 17: The Landlord granted the tenancy because of a statement made by the tenant which is later found to be false.
If a tenant is in rent arrears, you may be entitled to serve a section 8 notice. There are three grounds which may apply – Ground 8, Ground 10 and Ground 11. Each have slightly different requirements to satisfy, and as set out above, only Ground 8 is a mandatory ground.
You should also ensure that the most up to date contact information of the landlord and / or agent has been served on the tenant (Section 48 Notice).
If I serve a section 8 notice, will there be a Court hearing?
Yes- unless the parties come to an agreement before the Court hearing.
The initial Court hearing will usually be listed for 15 minutes before a Judge who will consider the relevant documents. If the Judge is satisfied that a ground for possession has been made out, possession may be granted at this hearing. Alternatively, depending on the circumstances of the case, the Judge may make further directions for the parties to comply with.
How can RFB Legal help me with this process?