When tenants refuse to leave a property voluntarily, eviction becomes a necessary part of being a landlord. Usually, taking back possession is fairly straightforward and should occur when an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) comes to an end, for example on the basis of properly serving notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and a tenant simply moving out.
A section 21 notice is essentially a no-fault basis on which to terminate an AST arrangement.
If a tenant is in breach of an AST, the landlord can consider serving notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. During the fixed term of an AST, the landlord is only able to serve a section 8 notice to trigger the termination of a tenancy, and only if it is possible to prove there are grounds to do so. The grounds set out in the Act include rent arrears, irregular rent payments, nuisance behaviour or damage to property.
Ground 8 is a mandatory ground, meaning if proved, the court must make a possession order. Ground 8 is effective where there are:
- at least eight weeks of arrears, where rent is payable weekly or every two weeks
- at least two months of arrears, where rent is payable monthly
- more than three months in arrears, where rent is payable every three months
- more than three months in arrears, where rent is payable yearly
Landlords can rely on as many grounds as are genuinely relevant to the claim for possession.
The court must make a possession order in 14 days without the need for a landlord to demonstrate to the court that it is reasonable for a tenant to lose possession in this way. However, the court must be satisfied that the arrears were sufficiently substantial (as above) both at the point the section 8 notice was served and by the date of the hearing.
It is essential that landlords follow correct procedure when serving notices with a view to bringing a possession claim.
At Fosters Solicitors LLP, we offer cost effective, expert solutions to Landlord & Tenant disputes. Chris Fielding heads the Dispute Resolution and Litigation team having spent many years successfully representing landlords across the region and further afield.
If you would like to arrange a meeting to discuss your needs, please contact us on 01603 723708/723786.