Residential possession actions

As a landlord, there may be circumstances in which you want to recover possession of a property. This could because the tenant has failed to pay rent or another reason, such as damage to your property caused by the tenant has caused.

A tenant who is in arrears with rent or has breached the terms of the tenancy in some other way, can be served a 14-day notice setting out the reasons why the landlord will seek possession (a section 8 notice). The section 8 notice may then be followed possession proceedings in the County Court.

Alternatively, a two-month notice can be served under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. There is no need for the you to set out the reasons that possession is required, but seeking possession using s21 is not possible unless certain requirements have been fulfilled before the notice is served. In particular, the landlord will need to have served a copy of the EPC and How to Rent Guide on the tenant. Furthermore, the deposit must have been protected and the tenant given the deposit protection scheme’s information within 30 days of the tenancy commencing, and a copy of the gas certificate must have been served on the tenant. The exact requirements may vary slightly depending upon the date upon which the tenancy started.

An eviction following service of a section 8 notice generally takes around four months from the service of notice to the date that the tenant is evicted. provided that the possession claim is straightforward. If there are more than two months’ arrears accrued on the date the notice was served, and at the time of the hearing, then there is a mandatory ground for possession. This means that the court must make an order for possession. If arrears are for less than two months, the ground is discretionary so that the Court may decide not to make an order. Alternatively, it may make an order providing that the tenant may stay as long as they pay current rent and an amount towards the arrears.

If you have served the s8 notice on the tenant, you must provide the notice to the solicitor along with a copy of the tenancy agreement, any relevant correspondence with the tenant, a rent arrears statement and the court fee.

Proceedings are then issued and a hearing date is set. Court paperwork is sent to the tenant and a witness statement is prepared for you. As the agent or landlord, you  are advised to attend the hearing and, if the tenant defends the eviction claim, then a timetable for a new hearing will be set.

If a possession order is granted, the tenant will usually be given 14 to 42 days to vacate the property. If the property is not vacated within the time specified by the Court, then a bailiff can be instructed to remove the tenant.