Most tenants in privately rented homes are assured shorthold tenants. They can be evicted quite easily, but landlords must follow the rules and procedures.
There are two ways a landlord can start the eviction process by using a:
Section 21 notice – for eviction after the fixed term has ended - Landlords usually use the section 21 procedure to evict tenants. You get at least two month’s notice to leave.
Section 8 notice – for eviction at any time, including during any fixed term but only for specific reasons - Landlords may use the section 8 procedure if you have rent arrears or have broken the terms of your tenancy agreement (for example if you have damaged the property or caused a nuisance).
Your landlord has to apply to the court for a possession order if you do not leave by the date set out in the notice.
The court decides if you should be evicted. A court will not order you to leave if the notice is not valid.
For section 21, there isn’t always a hearing. The court can use the accelerated possession procedure to make a decision without a hearing.
This speeds up the eviction process when tenants don’t send a defence form to the court. If the court decides you should leave, your landlord can apply to the court for bailiffs to evict you.
It is against the law for your landlord to try and evict you themselves or to harass you. You can challenge a Section 21 Notice if you think it is not valid, for example, it does not give you 2 months clear notice, your landlord has failed to protect your tenancy deposit, it is not on the correct form or you have complained to the council about repairs and your landlord has failed to deal with them.
If you think that the notice is not valid, or you need more time to find alternative accommodation, you should fill out the Defence form that the Court will send you with the claim form and information about the claim called the particulars of claim. The Court should then order the parties to attend the hearing to give their side of the story.If the notice is not valid, the court should dismiss your landlord’s claim against you and you can continue to live at the property. If the notice is valid, the court will order that possession is given to your landlord after a short period of time such as 14 or 28 days. In exceptional circumstances, the court can extend the time for possession up to 42 days.
After the time period has run out, if you do not leave the property, your landlord can apply to the court for a court bailiff to attend the property. The court bailiff can remove you from the property and change the locks if you are still there.
For section 8 evictions – your landlord can use this procedure any time during the tenancy if for example, you have rent arrears, you breach the terms of your tenancy in other ways or you are involved in criminal or anti- social behaviour.
Your landlord will have to prove to the court that they have grounds to evict you. These have to be legal reasons. The grounds for possession are split into two groups as follows:
Mandatory grounds – if proven, the court has to order you to leave
Discretionary grounds – the court can decide whether it is reasonable to evict you. Your landlord must serve a written section 8 notice. This has to be in a special form and give the grounds for eviction that are being used. The notice period will be either 14 days, four weeks or two months depending on the circumstances. After the notice period ends, you landlord can apply to the court for a possession order. The notice is only valid for one year after the date it was served on you.
You may be able to challenge a section 8 eviction if you think the notice is not valid, you can prove that the rent arrears figure is incorrect, you have evidence that disproves your landlord’s case, or you have a counterclaim for disrepair.
If you go to court and your challenge is successful, the court can suspend the date for possession and allow you to stay so long as you make payments to clear the arrears, or dismiss your landlord’s claim against you. If you cannot successfully challenge the eviction, you can ask the court to delay the date for possession for up to 42 days in exceptional circumstances.
After the date of possession has passed, your landlord can apply to the court bailiff to evict you.
At Swain & Co, we have an experienced team of housing solicitors and paralegals at our offices in Southampton and Havant who can provide advice and assistance under Legal Help or Legal Aid funding if your landlord wants to evict you.