With there being an estimated 2.5 million residential landlords in the UK there will inevitably be occasions when some of these landlords have to deal with issues relating to their tenants. Common problems encountered by landlords include, non-payment or persistent late payment of rent, anti-social behaviour or damage caused to the property. When these problems arise a landlord may wish to remove the tenant from his/her property. Alternatively, a landlord may simply wish to regain possession of the property after the expiry of a fixed term tenancy.
Landlords need to be aware that there is a formal legal process that needs to be followed in order to lawfully remove a tenant. In most circumstances it is against the law to evict someone from a residential property without a court order.
There are different processes to follow depending on the reason for wanting to recover possession of your property. We summarise the main two routes below:
Section 8 – can be used either during or after expiry of a fixed term tenancy
Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 allows a landlord to remove a tenant if certain grounds set out in schedule 2 of the Act apply. Some of the grounds, are mandatory, meaning that the court must grant an order for possession if the landlord can demonstrate the relevant ground applies. The remaining grounds are discretionary, which means that the court may grant an order for possession if it considers it reasonable to do so.
A landlord will need to serve a Section 8 Notice on the tenant giving them two weeks’ notice to leave the property. If the tenant fails to leave within the two weeks the landlord can issue possession proceedings in the local County Court to obtain a possession order.
Section 21 – on or after the expiry of a fixed term tenancy
Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows a landlord to remove a tenant where there was a fixed term tenancy in place and the fixed term has now ended. There does not need to be any other reason or ‘ground’ to use section 21.
A landlord will need to serve a Section 21 Notice on the tenant giving them two months’ notice to leave the property. If the tenant fails to leave within the two months the landlord can issue possession proceedings to obtain a possession order.
In order to be able to use the Section 21 route a landlord must have provided the tenant with the following:
1. An Energy Performance Certificate;
2. A Gas Safety Certificate; and
3. The MHCLG publication, How to rent: the checklist for renting in England
A landlord must also have properly protected the tenant’s deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme.
These rules apply to all assured shorthold tenancies entered into on or after 1 October 2015.
It can be difficult for landlords to know if they have option the remove a tenant and, if they do, how to commence the process. It is imperative that landlords follow the correct procedure, otherwise the court is likely to reject their claim and they will need to start the process again.