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:

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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