Possession Actions for Residential Property
Most landlords letting residential property will be aware that tenants have important rights which prevent them being evicted or unlawfully harassed by a landlord. With the exception of certain specific categories of lettings, it is a legal requirement that a landlord obtains a court order before he can enforce any right to possession of or re-entry to the property. The two common exceptions are properties let as a holiday letting, and properties where the landlord is resident in the same property as his tenant. Except in these latter instances, a landlord who evicts a tenant without first obtaining a court order is committing a criminal offence and heavy penalties apply.
There are two main routes for obtaining possession of assured and assured shorthold tenancies:
- section 8 route (this route is covered in more detail in Letting Factsheet No.8)
- section 21 route (this route is covered in more detail in Letting Factsheet No.21)
The purpose of this factsheet is to briefly explain the routes available to the landlord and the general procedure for starting possession proceedings.
Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies:
If the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy, then the landlord has a right to possession at the end of the tenancy under section 21 of the Housing Act (the ‘section 21 route’). Section 8 does not apply to these cases (unless there are other grounds such as rent arrears) and you should use the section 21 route (see Letting Factsheet No.21)
Where a landlord wishes to get possession from an assured (or assured shorthold) tenant before the fixed term has come to an end (e.g. due to default by non-payment of rent), he must serve notice of his intention to seek possession before possession proceedings can be commenced. This procedure and notice operate under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, and for this reason, we refer to it as the section 8 route and section 8 notice respectively.
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