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Introduction to Evictions for Assured Shorthold Tenancies

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eviction overview

What is eviction and how does it work ?

When renting a property from a private landlord, there are laws that allow them to regain possession of it. Depending on the grounds, the eviction can take months up to half an year. For urgent cases, it can be accelerated.

There are many steps to complete before an eviction can take effect. A necessary starting point is a notification to the tenant declaring the intent.

Unless if it happens in mutual agreement by both the tenant and landlord, eviction is resolved within the court. A judge will review the documents and both sides claims. Then, they can decide if there are valid grounds for the eviction.

If the eviction is successful, the landlord can receive enforcement help through the city bailiffs.

Tip: Eviction is a very serious matter that can result in homelessness. If you’re being evicted, you should seek legal aid. (more below)

Why can your landlord evict you ?

There are a number of reasons that can lead to an eviction, but they mostly fall into three categories:

Eviction for breach of contract

The eviction procedure acts as a protection mechanism from bad tenants. Those who are breaking the tenancy agreement can face eviction. If a tenant damages the furniture or construction of the property, the landlord can seek possession of their asset.

Other common examples are the tenants falling into arrears for more than two months or engaging in an anti-social behaviour, disturbing the peace in and around the property.

The more serious the issue, the faster the eviction procedure can take effect, although there are minimum periods that apply.

This eviction is done by serving a section 8 eviction notice.

No fault eviciton

Even if the renter has done nothing wrong, landlords can gain possession of the property. This can happen on the day or after their initial fixed period has expired. Provided all correct procedures are followed, the property owner can use the so called “no fault eviction”. The tenant receives an appropriate period of time in which they need to find another home, arrange their move and leave peacefully.

Some landlords will serve this notice soon after the tenancy has started to declare that the tenancy will end at the date of the fixed term.

This eviction is done by serving a section 21 eviction notice.

Property repossession

Sometimes, the landlord can lose their property to another party. Most commonly, this happens when the property is mortgaged and the landlord falls into arrears with the bank or funder. In such cases, the tenant can be evicted following a change of ownership of the property.

Landlord harrassment

Sadly, some landlords use eviction as an instrument to abuse the tenancy contract. Using fear of homelessness, and force tenants into bad deals. As an example we can take a common situation, where a landlord would force tenants to pay higher rent, or face eviction. Another is where a landlord disregards maintenance and repair in the property and threatens to evict tenants who voice their rights.

Tip: If you feel like your rights are being trumped, your landlord is evicting you as a form of harassment or the procedure of eviction is executed badly or illegally.

Can you stop or delay an eviction ?

Any kind of eviction follows a strict procedure. The landlord is required to have managed the property in a good and fair manner. Notably, the protection of the tenancy deposit plays a huge role in the landlord’s ability to evict tenants.

If the tenancy deposit has not been protected, or the procedure has been incorrect, or they have not provided the prescribed information in 30 days, the landlord CAN NOT use a valid section 21 notice. Even if one is served, it does not have legal power and you CAN NOT be evicted.

Failure to execute the correct steps, the landlord can be forced to start the process again. Tenants should carefully inspect all eviction documents for errors and challenge those when found.

If a tenant wants to fight the eviction for any reason, they will have a chance to defend their case in court. However, it’s always recommended to first try and resolve the issue with the landlord directly.

There are grounds, like damage, disruption or arrears, that quickly grant possession to the owner. In cases where the tenant is at fault and has caused harm to the property or landlord, there is little chance to stop an eviction. However, it might be delayed to provide more time for the tenant to arrange their affairs.

In cases when tenant rights have been trampled and proof is presented, the court can effectively deny possession claims .

Tip: If you want to challenge an eviction in court, you should seek legal aid. Defending yourself without experience or knowledge of landlord and tenant law, can result in homelessness.

What are your tenant rights in case of eviction ?

Even if your landlord has filed an eviction notice and has claimed for a possession order, you are still a legal tenant of the property. As such, you are entitled to all your tenant rights as described by the law.

The most important in the case of eviction is your right to be undisturbed. Even though your landlord wants and is trying to remove you from the property, he can’t do it physically himself. In fact, without the needed court order, tenants can ban even the police from the property they rent.

After the court has granted them a possession order, the landlord may apply for a “warrant of execution”. This means the bailiffs will come and enter the property to remove the tenant and their belongings.

Of course, the landlord has rights of access in case of emergency. E.g. fire, gas smell or other potentially dangerous situation.

Tip: Neither the bailiffs or the landlord and any related employee may use force against the tenant.

What to do if you’re homeless ?

If you’re already evicted, the it’s best to put fighting your landlord on the background and focus on finding reliable accommodation. First, try to contact your family and friends and see if any of them can provide you a bed at their home.

Your best option is to stay with a friendly face who will allow you for long enough to step on your feet. This way you can better focus on how to get back to financial independence, rather than worry about having ceiling for the night.

If you have nobody to ask for a room, look for:

  • a hostel
  • a bed and breakfast hotel
  • a room to rent day by day
  • couch surfing online
  • social housing

If you can’t find available housing or can’t afford it, the local council has to provide you with aid. Depending on the reason you became homeless and your situation – e.g. if you have children or not, the council might provide you with a temporary home, until your housing situation is sorted out.

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