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Clearing house - how to evict a tenant

James Watkins - Law on the Web

  1. 04 August 2015
  2. Housing
  3. 0 comments
Eviction notice

As a landlord, you have rights to reclaim possession of your property under the Housing Act 1988. How you do this depends on the type of tenancy and the reasons you want the tenant to leave.

Here are a couple of the more common ways of evicting tenants, and how they can be carried out. (Note: this guidance is for tenants on assured shorthold tenancies (AST) only.)

Section 8 eviction

A section 8 eviction can be used to evict a tenant for breach of the tenancy agreement – there are a number of grounds on which you can do this, but the most common is for non-payment of rent. We have a Section 8 Eviction Notice template that you can use for this.

You can only carry out a mandatory eviction if the tenant has arrears worth 2 or more months of rent – for example, if their rent is £400 a month, the arrears must have reached £800 before you can serve the notice. If the rent is due weekly, the arrears must have reached 8 weeks’ worth.

On the other hand, if the tenant had partial arrears dating back more than two months, they would not necessarily be eligible for a mandatory eviction – for example, if their rent was £400 p/m and they paid only half for three months, they would be £600 in arrears.

If they have less than two months’ worth of arrears, you can still issue the eviction notice – however, it is up to the court’s discretion whether the tenant should be evicted or not.

It is a good idea to send your tenant regular notices reminding them of their rent arrears, even if you aren’t serving them with a Section 8 notice yet – you can use our template Letter to Tenants Regarding Rent Arrears for this.

Serving the notice

The tenant must be given 2 weeks’ notice of their eviction, though it is a good idea to give them more notice if possible. If more than one tenant is in arrears, you should serve them with separate notices.

If a tenant has a guarantor, you should also serve them with a copy of the notice.

The majority of tenants leave before the notice period ends. However, if they do not, you will have to apply to a county court for a possession order. You can find your nearest county court in our county court directory.

Mandatory and discretionary grounds

You should think hard before evicting a tenant based on discretionary grounds – you could find yourself in a drawn-out and expensive court case, and the judge will take a dim view if he or she believes you are trying to remove someone from their home without good reason.

If you lose the case, you could find yourself paying your tenant’s legal fees as well as your own. You should get legal advice if you are considering this sort of eviction.

If possible, it would be safer use a section 21 notice, even though this will take longer.

Section 21 notice of possession

Technically, a Section 21 notice is not a means of eviction – it’s a way to take back the property once the tenant fixed term has ended, or if the tenant was never on a fixed term.

If your tenant is on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), they do not automatically need to leave when the fixed-term period comes to an end. At this point, they switch over to a statutory period tenancy.

If you want to reclaim the property when the fixed-term period has ended, you can issue a Section 21. The notice should specify on what date you want them to vacate the property.

You must give at least 2 months’ notice for a Section 21, so even if the notice was served less than two months before the end of the fixed-term, they do not have to leave until the date specified on the notice.

Section 21 restrictions

New restrictions have been placed on Section 21 notices this year, in an attempt to curb “retaliatory evictions”, where a landlord uses a Section 21 notice to get rid of a tenant who complains about the property needing repairs.

If your tenant complains to the local authority that the property needs repairs, causing the authority to issue an improvement notice, you are not allowed to serve a Section 21 notice for the next 6 months.

However, the local authority will only considering issuing an improvement notice if the tenant has already complained to you or your agent in writing, and did not receive what they consider to be an “adequate response”.

This provision is set to come into effect on the 1st October 2015.

Other things to know

  • The right to evict the tenant on these grounds must be included in the tenancy agreement – our template tenancy agreement includes this provision.
  • It is possible to issue a Section 8 notice and a Section 21 notice around the same time – for example, you can issue a Section 8 notice even if you have already served the tenant with a Section 21. They are considered to be separate instruments, so they don’t affect each other or cancel each other out.

You can find more information on accelerated possession, ending a tenancy early or anything else you might need to know in our Landlord Advice section. You can also get extensive legal protection for landlords at a low price with DAS’s Property Let service.




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