When it’s time to say goodbye: A landlord’s guide to evictions

It’s inevitable that all tenancies must come to an end. In many cases, the tenant will call time – and this could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe they’re in a student home and their studies have ended; sometimes the tenant needed somewhere temporary to live whilst their own home was being built or renovated; or perhaps it is simply time to move on.

Once the initial tenancy period has finished, then the tenancy agreement usually moves onto a rolling tenancy agreement, and then the tenant only needs to give one month’s notice that they intend to move.

Even though most tenancies are ended by the tenant, there are times when a landlord is the one who instigates a possession order.  But unlike the tenant, who only needs to give one month’s notice, for landlords it can take a little longer to end a tenancy, depending on the circumstances.

In our experience, landlords seek possession of the property for two principal reasons:

  1. They want, or need the property back
  2. The tenant is not fulfilling their obligations

How to evict

Landlords who want or need to evict their tenant have two routes – either issuing a Section 8, or a Section 21 Notice.

Section 8 Notices can be used to evict a tenant because they have breached the tenancy. Often it is unpaid rent, but it can also be another breach such as antisocial behaviour or damage to the property.  A Section 8 Notice can be used at any time during the tenancy, however in the case of arrears, the rent must be one month plus one day late.

Section 21 Notice – these are known as a ‘no-fault’ eviction because the landlord doesn’t need to provide a reason, nor pass any blame onto the tenant.

Provided the fixed tenancy period has ended, the landlord only needs to give two months’ notice that they wish to regain possession of the property. This should allow the tenant enough time to find somewhere new to live.

The landlord can’t serve this type of notice during the first four months of a six months tenancy. (Or in the case of a 12-month tenancy then he or she must wait until ten months have passed). That’s because a landlord can ask for the property back on the day the tenancy expires – but they still need to give two months’ notice to the tenant. 

Because the landlord doesn’t need to give any reason for serving this type of eviction notice, there is usually no need for the case to be heard in court. This means that provided the landlord has served the correct paperwork, had conducted the tenancy fairly – including providing the prescribed information at the start of the tenancy, then there should be no reason why possession shouldn’t be granted. This is why landlords sometimes use this process when a tenant has defaulted on their tenancy agreement, as it can often be a swifter, cheaper route than serving a Section 8 Notice.

In all cases, Felicity J Lord recommends landlords conduct an in-depth reference before granting a new tenancy. Provided a tenant has successfully passed the reference, then a variety of rent guarantee solutions are available, which can be accessed used when the landlord does need the property back if the tenant is in breach of the agreement.