How We Can Help With Residential Possession

Most private renters occupy their property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. There are other types of tenancy (such as assured tenancies and regulated tenancies), but this is the most commonly used tenancy.

To bring the tenancy to an end, the landlord must serve a notice on their tenant and, if the tenant does not vacate, must issue Court proceedings to obtain an Order for Possession. 

Residential possession matters are often complex, and it is important to take advice at the outset to allow you to recover possession of your property as quickly as possible. We can help you with the following:

  • Advise tactically on the best way to recover possession of the property
  • Serve section 8 or section 21 notices
  • Issue possession proceedings to obtain an Order for Possession and, if required, a monetary Judgment for any rent arrears.
  • Obtain a Warrant for Possession and instruct bailiffs to recover possession of the property.

Contact our residential possession solicitors

Residential Possession Case Studies

Trustees of the HR Millington Trust

Client Intro: Trustees of the HR Millington Trust

Our clients are the owners of a large estate in the North West which includes residential properties that they rent to tenants.

Case Overview:

The firm regularly acts for the landlord and receives instructions to recover possession of residential premises and obtain Judgment in relation to rent arrears.

These properties are sometimes let on very old ‘Rent Act’ tenancies or assured tenancies. Alternatively, they are let on Assured Shorthold Tenancies. In the first instances, notices are served on the tenant and if possession is not given by the end of those notices, Court proceedings are issued, an Order obtained and bailiffs instructed to obtain possession.

A landlord of a residential property

Client Intro:

Our client was a landlord of a residential property.  The tenant was in serious rent arrears and was causing anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the property.  Our client wanted to recover possession of the property.

Case Overview:

We advised our client about which notice should be served considering the tenancy was in place.  When the tenant failed to vacate the property, we advised our client about the claim they needed to make to obtain an Order for possession.  An Order for possession was granted.  However, the tenant made several applications to have the possession stayed.  We advised our client on each step and made an application to enforce the Order for possession.  Ultimately, we obtained vacant possession on behalf of the client.

A landlord of a residential property

Client Intro:

Our client was a landlord of a residential property.  The landlord had previously attempted to negotiate a surrender of the lease however, this failed.  Our client wanted possession of the property.

Case Overview:

We advised our client about the types of notices they could serve in an attempt to obtain possession of the property.  The client decided it was better to serve a section 21 notice, which did not require any grounds for possession to be proven.  We advised our client whether they were able to serve this notice and then prepared it on their behalf.  The date for the tenant to vacate expired and the tenant remained in the property.  We, therefore, advised our client about issuing proceedings for an Order for possession and the steps involved.  Our client obtained an Order for possession and the client vacated.

A client inherited a residential property with tenants

Client Intro:

Our client inherited a residential property with tenants from her late husband.  When our client inherited the property, there was no written tenancy agreement.  However, the landlord later put a written tenancy agreement in place.  The tenant subsequently failed to make the rental payments, and the landlord wanted to obtain possession of the property.

Case Overview:

This matter was complex due to the landlord not understanding the requirements for possession.  Before we were instructed, the landlord had served an invalid section 21 notice.  Upon instruction, we advised the client of the type of notice that could be served and the steps that would enable the landlord to be able to move forward with a more successful outcome and to enable a valid section 21 notice to be served.

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Residential Possession FAQs

What is a section 21 notice?

A section 21 notice starts the legal process to end an AST.

The landlord or its agent can serve a section 21 notice during either a rolling periodic tenancy or a fixed-term contract if there is a break clause.

The notice provides the tenant with a date to leave the property and is sometimes referred to as a ‘no fault’ notice, as the landlord does not need to provide a reason for the notice. The tenancy will continue if the tenant stays past the date stipulated in the notice, and the landlord must apply to the court to obtain an order for possession or the tenant vacate voluntarily.

How do I know whether the section 21 notice is valid?

The landlord must follow certain rules to ensure the section 21 notice is valid; for example, the correct notice period was given, the deposit was protected (if there is one), and the tenant received the relevant paperwork.

Our specialist Real Estate Litigation solicitors can assist you with this.

How long does the section 21 procedure take?

The tenant does not need to vacate the property immediately once a section 21 notice is served. There are three stages to eviction:

  1. notice period
  2. court action by the landlord
  3. eviction by bailiffs

The landlord can apply to the court if the tenant is still residing at the property and living there after the notice period expires.

What is a section 8 notice?

The landlord can give a section 8 notice if they have a legal reason or a ground. This ground must be proven at a court hearing.
Most section 8 notices are for rent arrears and were temporarily extended during the pandemic. However, the notice periods have returned to a shorter period now.

Section 8 notices can be given for other reasons, for example, antisocial behaviour.

The landlord can start court action when the notice period ends. The notice will expire if the landlord does not start court action within a year of giving notice to the tenant.

Rent Arrears

A Landlord can use ground 8 if the tenant has at least 2 months’ arrears of rent.

The court must make a possession order if the landlord can prove at least 2 months’ arrears both when the tenant was given notice and on the date of the hearing.

The court cannot order eviction on ground 8 if the tenant owes less than 2 months’ rent. They might still order eviction on another ground.

If the Landlord uses this ground for possession and the court grants an Order, there will be a judgment for possession and for the arrears of rent that can be enforced.

Possession Proceedings

There are two types of proceedings: standard and accelerated.

The accelerated possession procedure can only be used to recover possession under Section 21. It does not require the landlord to state a ground for possession.

There is often no defence to a claim for possession on the basis of a section 21 notice so the landlord can recover possession quickly by avoiding the need for a hearing in cases where the claim is not disputed.

The accelerated possession procedure can only be used to recover possession. It does not permit any other claim, such as for rent arrears.

A landlord can use the section 21 procedure and ask for a money judgment for rent arrears at the same time, but it is not dealt with under the accelerated procedure.

Eviction by bailiffs

If the tenant stays in the property after an order has been granted, the landlord may need to enforce the court order. The landlord can use county court bailiffs or high court enforcement offices.

The bailiff will give the tenant at least 2 weeks’ notice of the eviction date.

How much does it cost to obtain possession of my property?

This depends on the complexity and the stage the landlord is at. 

Our Property Litigation Team

Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our property litigation lawyers are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.

Laura Pile

Laura Pile

Laura is a Partner and Head of our Property Litigation Team

Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor

Karen is a Senior Associate in our Property Litigation Team

Jennifer Hartley

Jennifer Hartley

Jennifer is an Associate in our Property Litigation Team

Vikki Wright

Vikki Wright

Vikki is a Solicitor in our Property Litigation Team

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