A landlord has a number of ways to obtain possession of its property and deal with tenant eviction.
Section 21 procedure
The Section 21 procedure is used where a landlord simply wants its property back. There does not need to be any reason for this, for example rent arrears, or the tenant not looking after the condition of the property, it is simply that the landlord wants the property back.
Please note however, this procedure cannot be used where the tenant is still within the fixed term of the tenancy. Further, a landlord cannot claim arrears under this procedure. The procedure is designed to deal with possession only. A separate claim would need to be issued to recover any arrears.
On 1 October 2015, the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force. The result of this is that there are now restrictions on a landlord’s ability to rely on the Section 21 Procedure. This only applies to tenancies entered into on or after 1 October 2015.
The changes are as follows:
- Protection for tenants from retaliatory eviction;
- A Section 21 Notice cannot now be served within the first 4 months of the tenancy;
- A new prescribed Section 21 Notice must be used;
- A landlord must provide to the tenant certain prescribed information relating to the rights and responsibilities of a landlord.
A failure to comply with the above can deem a Section 21 notice invalid. This will result in the possession proceedings being struck out.
Therefore, it is imperative to get it right at the outset.
Section 8 Procedure
This procedure can be used both during and after the fixed term of the tenancy.
When relying on the Section 8 procedure the landlord must first serve a Section 8 Notice. The notice must be in the prescribed form and set out which of the 17 grounds of possession the landlord is relying on.
The grounds for possession are split between mandatory grounds for possession and discretionary grounds for possession.
If the tenant refuses to leave upon expiry of the time limit set out in the notice, then court proceedings must be issued. In the majority of cases, a court hearing is conducted where it is for the landlord to prove the grounds it is relying on.
In the case of relying on a mandatory ground, providing the notice and court proceedings are valid the court must order possession. It is at the court’s discretion as to whether or not it should order possession when relying solely on discretionary grounds. A landlord needs to show the Judge why it should order possession for example, the tenant is causing a nuisance to neighbours or is persistently late in paying the rent.
In summary, a landlord should not retake possession of its property without either the tenant confirming it has left the property and given up possession or a court order for possession is obtained.
If a landlord does not comply with this, it could be found to have carried out an unlawful eviction.