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The Eviction Process for Assured Shorthold Tenancies

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eviction process

There may be times when you are evicted from your rented home. Panic will do little to help you, so it’s best to stay calm and act methodically. Eviction is not a sudden or instant action. For the benefit of the tenant, eviction goes through a strict series of steps. First, the landlord has to notify you of their intentions to evict you. The law provides you with enough time. You can either settle your tenancy and move on, or , build a case and raise a formal dispute.

The final and correct procedure for tenant eviction is described in the tenancy agreement. Thus, you have to first refer to the lease before you act.

The legal procedure to evict a tenant on Fixed term AST

Most tenancies start off as fixed-term. The fixed-term means both parties have a guaranteed tenancy until the period expires. A one-year fixed term tenancy will grant you (the tenant) occupation for 12 months from the sign date.

The landlord cannot claim their property unless you breach the contract. In case of eviction, the landlord cannot make use of “ no fault eviction” sooner than the date on the lease.

On the other hand, the renter has to lease the property for the same and pay rent as stated. Even if you don’t live in the property, you’re regarded as a legal tenant until the fixed term expires. As such you will bear legal responsibilities.

Note: If you’re served with a section 21 eviction notice, check if the end date. It has to fall on the last day of your lease, or later. If it suggests a sooner date than on the tenancy agreement, the notice is invalid.

Some landlords exert more control over their properties. They use a section 21 eviction notice as soon as possible. This way, when the fixed-term expires, the landlord can quickly gain possession, if needed.

If you do not move out by the specified date, the procedure follows the same eviction process as with periodic tenancy.

The landlord may have a serious reason to evict you before the end of the fixed-term tenancy. They need to use the “standard possession procedure” and give the court legitimate grounds for eviction.

Fixed-term AST automatically convert into periodic tenancies. Unless otherwise specified, when the fixed period expires, it continues on a monthly basis.

Eviction procedures follow the laws for periodic AST.

The legal procedure to evict a tenant on Periodic AST

A periodic tenancy runs on small periods of time (e.g. month or week). They automatically renews themselves, unless otherwise stated. Usually the period is equal to your rent period – month to month or week to week.

The landlord will serve the tenant a legal ‘notice to quit’ – otherwise known as section 21 notice.

This shows intent to seek possession of the property. The “notice to quit” is another way of asking to leave nicely. It must always give the tenant two months of time before going into effect. Section 21 is invalid if the deposit is not protected in a TDP. 

What the notice to quit must contain:

  • The date you are expected to leave
  • The reason you are expected to leave
  • A provision of a specific length of time to leave – minimum 2 months
  • Helpful information including where you can get advice

Renters can simply choose not to, but when it will enable the landlord to seek assistance from the court. If you don’t leave by the end of the section 21 notice, landlords can use the accelerated possession procedure.

Tenants will receive a “notice to seek possession”. This means the landlord is going to court and will seek a possession order.

The court will open a possession case and will review the grounds for eviction. If the grounds are legitimate and procedures are legal, the court can grant a possession order. Some grounds do not require a full hearing. For example, if the tenant owes two months of rent, the possession order will be immediate.

If the grounds are dodgy or lack supporting evidence, the court may decide to have a hearing.

You will be invited to defend your side in the court and so will the landlord. Mostly, the two parties need to present documents that prove their statements.

Such documents include:

  • A copy of the tenancy agreement with excerpts that back your statement
  • Receipts for rent payments
  • Receipts for utility bill payments
  • Copy of the move in and move out inventory. It includes any photos and notes about the condition of the property.
  • Letters and emails with the landlord or letting agent that relate to your case

This grants them back ownership and occupational rights over the property.

Again: This can only happen if your tenancy deposit has been protected in the beginning of the lease. If the tenancy deposit is not protected, landlords cannot use accelerated possession.

The court will give the landlord a ‘possession order’. It the tenant is still in the property, the landlord will apply for a ‘warrant of execution’.

Landlords never gain a right to enter the property and physically expel you. The warrant of execution summons the bailiffs to remove the tenant from the property.

Note: Neither the landlord, nor the bailiffs can use force and violently remove you from the property.

If anyone tried to evict you without going through all the steps, they are breaking the law.

What are the legitimate grounds for eviction

Not always does a landlord need a reason to evict you from the property. Owners have reasonable rights to reclaim the property even if the tenant has not breached the tenancy agreement.

For benefits of the tenant, the law regulates how landlords make use of these rights.

Important: Regardless of the grounds, the landlord can only evict their tenants when using the proper legal mechanisms.

Mandatory grounds for possession after Section 21

These are grounds that the court must honor and grant possession to the landlord. The landlord must first use a section 21 notice. This gives the tenant at least two months to settle before being evicted. If the tenancy deposit is not protected with a deposit protection scheme, the landlord cannot use section 21 notice.

  • The landlord has lived in the property before – grants right of the owner to reclaim their home as their own.
  • The tenancy was a short-let or a holiday-let – the property is only available for seasonal use or short periods of time.
  • The property is being repossessed by the mortgage holder – the bank is selling the landlord’s property to cover their arrears
  • The property was arranged as student accommodation from the educational facility – the landlord needs the property after the student arrangements is over.
  • The property is held for a member of the church who now needs it – the church has reserved the property for a minister of religion who occasionally needs it. 

Mandatory grounds for immediate possession

These ground must be honored by the court and give immediate possession to the landlord. They don’t require a section 21.

  • The landlord wants to develop the property – the landlord cannot provide you with basic functionality like hot water or heating during major renovations. They must assist you with removals cost.
  • The original tenant has died, the landlord is granted possession of the property. – owners always receive the possession if the contract holder has passed away. 
  • The tenant owes rent upwards of two months equivalent. – two months of rent arrears can get you evicted without a hearing in the court.

Discretionary grounds for possession

Discretionary grounds regard a specific problem between the landlord and tenant. They will be reviewed and considered by the court. The judge will decide whether they are sufficient to grant a possession order.

  • The landlord wants to use the property and relocate the current tenants – the landlord wants the property, wants to keep you as a tenant. They will provide another suitable accommodation to you instead.
  • The tenant is behind or missing a rent payment – the tenant has missed on some rent, but not two full months.
  • The renter paid rent with delay or in installments – the tenant has a habit of paying late or not in full.
  • The renter fail to uphold their responsibility – the tenant has missed out on some pre-defined responsibility, like maintenance of the garden.
  • The renter has caused considerable damage to the property – you’ve ruined the property and have caused serious financial harm to the owner.
  • The furniture has seriously deteriorated since the start of the tenancy – furniture can cost many thousands of pounds. If it’s wears and tears too quickly, the landlord may wish to find a more caring tenant.
  • The tenant or their affiliate exhibits an anti-social behaviour – being a nuisance or doing illegal things in the rental will quickly get you evicted.
  • The tenant is an ex-employee of the landlord – if the rental was provided by your employer, you will have to leave when your work relationships are over.
  • The tenant has lied or provided false information – lying on official paperwork is never a good idea.

If you think your eviction is illegal, or if your landlord harasses you, seek legal help!

Where to go for help

Eviction notices can be unsettling and confusing. For more information see our related articles.

If you are at risk of becoming homeless then speak to an advisor at Shelter or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

This article is provided as a guide. The Tenants’ Voice is NOT a legal advice specialist site and our content authors are NOT housing law specialists.

The Tenants’ Voice advises that tenants act courteously and reasonably in all communications and dealings with regard to a tenancy but if you suspect you are experiencing an infringement of your rights that you seek advice and support from a regulated professional. The Tenants’ Voice recommends Shelter 0808 800 4444

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