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As a tenant, you need to be familiar will the common eviction procedures, so you can defend your rights. The procedures are sometimes long and take the landlord more than a couple of steps. It’s easy for new landlords, who haven’t done evictions before to get confused over the legal details and technicalities.
It’s also easy for a cunning landlord to trick an uneducated tenant into illegal eviction. To be legal, evictions need to follow exact protocols. If any step of the procedure is flawed, the eviction becomes illegal. It’s important to know how and what the landlord needs to do to evict you. If you feel lost reading this article, read our “Introduction to Evictions for Assured Shorthold Tenancies” to get started.
To avoid the painstaking eviction procedure, most landlords begin with simply asking their renters to move out. This is called “receiving notice”. If the tenant doesn’t agree, then landlords proceed with the actual eviction.
Landlords have two main eviction protocols depending on the particular tenancy
Section 21 Notice to Quit
This is the standard way of reclaiming a property from the current tenants. It’s also called “no fault eviction” because the landlord is not required to give any reason whatsoever. They may simply wish to get back their asset and the law gives them a reasonable right to do so.
However, it needs to follow some strict rules, to prevent harassment:
- section 21 can’t be served without protecting the tenant’s deposit
- section 21 can’t be served if it goes into effect before the end of the fixed term
- section 21 must give the tenant two months or eight weeks from the time of serving
If the landlord hasn’t properly undergone a deposit protection at the start of the tenancy, they can’t use a section 21. The law renders it invalid, provided the above is true on the day of the start date. It must state an end date no sooner than the end of the fixed term. The fixed term essentially guarantees a tenancy, unless there is a breach in the contract. A no fault eviction would act in the exact opposite way, so it’s invalid.
Section 8 Notice to Seek Possession
Unlike a “notice to quit”, a “notice to seek possession” is a very tenant fault eviction. There are three common scenarios when the section 8 is used
1. – If the tenant has been served with a legal section 21, but has not moved out by the date specified (at least two months), then the landlord can proceed with the next step in the eviction procedure and issues a section 8, while in the same time applies for a possession order in the court.
Since it’s been two months, this eviction will proceed through the accelerated possession procedure.
2. – If the tenant has broken the contract or has brought financial harm to the landlord, section 8 can be used directly, with an application to the court for a possession order.
- Physical damage to the property
- Rent arrears upwards of two months
- Using the property for illegal purposes
3. – If the tenant has a fixed term AST and the fixed term is still active, the tenancy is guaranteed and can be terminated only through a section 8 with a valid ground.
You must be served with a “notice seeking possession” or “section 8 notice”, your eviction will be decided in court. The landlord is required to provide serious and legitimate grounds for your eviction.Your landlord may use the following grounds:
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. The section 21 must give the tenant two months of time to leave. If the tenancy deposit is not protected with a deposit protection scheme, the landlord cannot use section 21 notice.
The landlord once lived in the property and wants to live there again
When people go abroad for extended periods of time, it’s common to rent out your property. The rent collected will cover for maintenance and taxes. These tenancies are usually pre-arranged. In the cases where they are not, the landlord can begin an eviction.
The tenancy is for a fixed term of eight months or less, or it’s a holiday let
These tenancies are used for short periods only. You should expect to move soon after you move in (half an year). This often happens when the landlord is in occupation some time of the year, but not the rest. Renting out when away for half an year can offset living costs.
The property is being repossessed FROM the landlord
Most commonly, this happens when the property is mortgaged before you’ve moved in. A popular trend for landlords is to use a special mortgage to purchase a property to use for renting. It’s called a buy-to-let scheme or BTL in short. If the landlord is in arrears with the mortgage payments, the bank can sell the property and cover their loss. That unfortunately, might mean that you can get evicted.
It’s an arranged student accommodation from the university or college
Most universities provide arranged accommodation to their first year students. This helps students from other countries or even parts of the country start life in the new area easier. The same properties will be offered to next year’s first year students. You will be expected to leave when the year goes by.
The property is held for use by a minister of religion and is now to be used by that minister
The church often hold properties for guaranteed accommodation to missionaries and travelling priests. If the property is not occupied some time of the year, if may be rented out. If a member of the church needs accommodation, the current tenant might need to move out.
Mandatory Grounds for Immediate Possession
These grounds must be honored by the court and give immediate possession to the landlord. Immediate possession doesn’t mean immediate eviction. The process will still take time and in one of three cases, the landlord must also assist their tenant with removal expenses. These grounds don’t require a section 21, but still need a notice period of two weeks.
The landlord wants to develop the property and cannot do so while you live inside
For example, the landlord wants to build a two-story extension and add two more rooms to the property. This will suspend important requirements of the property to be fit for use. A tenant can’t live inside, so they need to be evicted, or relocated.
This cannot be used if the property was purchased by the landlord while you were already living in it. Also, the landlord should pay your removal expenses.
If the original tenant has died, the landlord is granted possession of the property.
The landlord can choose to begin a new tenancy with any family members living with the late tenant. However, they may also choose to keep their property and relocate the family.
If the tenant falls into arrears, the landlord can gain immediate possession
If the tenant falls behind with rent, the landlord can repossess the property and cut their losses. After you miss to pay 2 months of rent, the landlord is eligible to use an accelerated possession procedure. If proven the court will grant the order immediately.
Always try to negotiate rent arrears with your landlord first. Often a resolution between the two is possible and everybody can avoid the court and an eviction case.
Discretionary Grounds for Possession:
Discretionary grounds are related to a specific problem between the tenant and landlord. They are often not sufficient on their own to grant a possession order. However, if many or just a few of them are true, you can get evicted. Discretionary grounds must be approved by the judge to grant the eviction. If the judge finds the grounds petty or lacking, the owner can be denied a possession order. This means the eviction is prevented.
The landlord wants to relocate the tenant and use this property
The landlord may be entitled to seek possession if they find a replacement accommodation. It needs to fit the needs of the tenant and be of suitable quality. The alternative property must ready and available before the date of the relocation.
The tenant is behind or missing a rent payment
If you owe your landlord any amount of rent (but not two full months), it will always act against you in court. That is also true if you’re late on payments after the eviction procedure has began. Never stop paying your rent, until the tenancy is over.
The renters paid rent with delay or in installments
If the tenant consecutively pays late, without proper notice, it makes them a liability. It’s a financial risk, although not as severe, since there is not debt. The court can still consider it in the form of negligence.
The renters fail to uphold their responsibility
Just like the landlord, the renter also has legal responsibilities to the property. They have to take care of daily maintenance and proper use of the equipment under the lease. This also means any special task agreed in the tenancy agreement.
- like maintenance of the garden
- professional cleaning
- repainting the walls.
The renter has caused considerable damage to the property
Bad tenants can cause more damage than their rent and deposit can offset. If landlords feels their investment is threatened, they can seek a possession order. The court can use that as a form of anti-social behaviour, or just negligence from the tenant.
Always negotiate damage to the property with your landlord. Often, you can just pay off the repairs and your landlord will be fine with you being their tenant again.
The furniture has seriously deteriorated since the start of the tenancy
This is somewhat included in the above ground. But, furniture in some properties may cost well and beyond just a few months of rent. If the tenant fails to maintain the surfaces and upholstery, furniture can lose most of it’s value. The landlord will lose their profit on repairs and replacement. In such cases, it will always be a notable ground in the eviction process.
The tenants or their guests exhibit anti-social behaviour
Anti-social behaviour is the general name for any immoral or illegal activity by the tenant. This can be anything from playing loud music to manufacturing of drugs.
It largely falls into three categories:
- The tenants are engaging in misconduct at the property;
- The tenants are a nuisance to the neighbours or residents in the vicinity;
- The tenant are using the property for illegal activities;
The court will always treat this as special grounds, since many of them are also criminal offence. If the landlord has served you an eviction notice, after you have exhibited such behaviour, contact them immediately. You probably don’t want to get evicted after a rowdy. Try to negotiate with your landlord and see whether you can’t make up.
The tenant is an ex-employee of the landlord
Frequently relocated employees live in an accommodation provided and arranged by their boss. If the working relationships end, the employee will be expected to move out. If they don’t, they will likely be successfully evicted.
The tenant has lied, provided false information or rents under false pretence
If the renter has knowingly lied or hidden information, it’s a serious breach of the law. Courts easily grand a possession order in such cases. Usually, renters conceal a bad credit check, that will otherwise deter landlords.
If you think your eviction is illegal, or if your landlord harrasses you, seek legal help!
Where to go for help
It may be possible to halt the eviction process. For more information see our related articles.
If you are at risk of becoming homeless you should 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 https://www.shelter.org.uk/ 0808 800 4444
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