Gaining possession of a privately rented property let on an assured shorthold tenancy
What is an assured shorthold tenancy (AST)?
Your tenancy agreement is likely to be an AST if you are a private landlord, the tenancy began on or after 28.02.1997 and the house or flat is let as a separate accommodation and is the tenant’s main home.
What legislation is applicable?
The Housing Act 1988 governs the laws between landlords and tenants in respect of AST’s.
How do you gain possession?
The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it a criminal offence for a landlord to unlawfully evict a tenant. In order to make sure that you, as a landlord, do not commit an offence you must adhere to the statutory provisions as set out in the Housing Act 1988.
Under the Housing Act 1988 a landlord can take possession of their property if certain criteria, as set out in the Act, is complied with.
Under Section 8 a landlord can gain possession of their property if the tenant has defaulted on their rent or caused anti-social behaviour etc.
Under Section 21 a landlord can gain possession of their property one the fixed term of the tenancy agreement has expired.
The Housing Act 1988 prescribes the legal procedure which must be followed in order to gain possession under either section 8 or section 21. The procedure involves serving a valid notice on the tenant to notify them that the landlord is seeking possession of the property.
What happens if the notice is invalid?
If the there are any errors within the notice or if the incorrect notice is issued, then it may be deemed invalid and the tenant would not be obliged to vacate the property. Similarly, if the correct notice is completed but is not served correctly then again the notice may be deemed invalid.
What should you do if the tenant refuses to leave on the date specified in the notice?
If the tenant refuses to vacate, then the landlord will need to make an application to the court for possession. If a section 21 notice has been served, the landlord will be able to make an Accelerated Possession application which is usually a straightforward and inexpensive procedure without a court hearing. This accelerated procedure is not available if the landlord is also looking to claim rent arrears.
If the landlord wants to claim rent arrears or is gaining possession of the property via section 8, then a standard possession application must be made at court. This procedure usually takes longer than an accelerated application and is often more costly.
We Can Help
If you are a landlord and you wish to gain possession of your property but you are unsure which route you should use, then please contact a member of our Litigation team at our Bishop Auckland office.