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Obtaining possession of properties – the options…

Date Added 20.04.22

It is important to understand the options available to residential landlords who are looking at obtaining possession of properties let under an assured shorthold tenancy.

The procedure for obtaining possession of a property occupied by a tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement is that a landlord must first provide their tenant with formal notice before commencing possession proceedings. A landlord must not attempt to evict a tenant without an order for possession, as this would be a wrongful eviction which is a criminal offence.

Tenants must be given either:

  • a s21 notice. A landlord does not need to provide a reason for possession, but does need to have provided the tenant with certain information to be able to issue a valid notice;
  • a s8 notice. A landlord must rely on one of the grounds set out in the Housing Act 1988, some grounds are mandatory, meaning the Court has to grant an order for possession and some are discretionary, meaning that it is up to the Court whether or not to grant an order for possession. The most common ground for seeking possession is rent arrears;
  • depending on the circumstances, a landlord may decide to serve both a s21 notice and a s8 notice.

During the pandemic, the Government introduced emergency legislation that extended the timescales for the service of s8 and a s21 notices.

As of 1 October 2021, the majority of the restrictions imposed under the Coronavirus Act 2020 were lifted, and the notice periods required for s8 and s21 notices reverted to that of the pre-pandemic period.

For s21 notices, where the tenant is entitled to the statutory 2 months’ notice, the notice can be relied upon to commence possession proceedings for a period of 6 months beginning with the day it is given to the tenant.

For s8 notices, a landlord must provide a tenant with at least 2 weeks’ notice (this varies depending on the ground relied upon) and commence possession proceedings within 12 months from the day upon which the notice was given to the tenant.

Following the expiry of the relevant notice, possession proceedings can be commenced, however, it can take a number of months to obtain an order for possession.

Once the court has granted an order for possession, a warrant for possession must be applied for if the tenant continues to refuse to vacate the property. When a warrant for possession is granted, an eviction date will be scheduled by a County Court Bailiff.

If you require assistance or advice on obtaining possession of a property and the different notices…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558, our experienced Dispute Resolution team is on hand to provide you with the most up-to-date information and guidance.

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