Rent Arrears and Eviction

Tenants/Landlords

If you are renting your home from a private landlord and have fallen into rent arrears, then you need to know what steps your landlord must take to evict you from the home. The steps your landlord takes will depend on whether you are in a Fixed Term (six or 12 month contract normally) or Periodic Tenancy (this is where a fixed term agreement has not been renewed).

If your tenancy commenced after 28 February 1997 the following rules will apply. Different rules may apply to tenancies commencing before this date and you should seek advice.

Notice to Quit

The first step a landlord must take is to issue a tenant with a Notice to Quit, the type of Notice is dependent upon whether it is a Fixed Term or Periodic Tenancy:

Fixed Term Tenancy

The Landlord can only issue a Notice to Quit during a fixed term if they can show that a legal ‘ground’ exists to evict the tenant. Some ‘grounds’ are mandatory which means that if proven the Court must grant possession. Other ‘grounds’ are discretionary which means that possession will only be granted if the Court thinks it reasonable to do so. The notice must be for a period of at least two weeks or two months depending on the ground used. The notice must be on a special form called ‘Notice seeking possession let on an Assured Tenancy or an Assured Agricultural Occupancy’ and must state the grounds for possession he/she is using.

Once the notice period has ended, the Landlord must apply to the Court for a Possession Order if the tenant has not left the property. If the ground used by the landlord is a mandatory ground, the Court will grant possession to the landlord and you will normally be given 14 days to leave the property and find alternative accommodation.

If the tenant does not leave the property on the date ordered by the Court, the landlord can apply back to the Court for a warrant for eviction, which involves the Court Bailiff evicting the tenant at a time/date notified to them in writing.

Periodic Tenancy

The landlord must give the tenant at least two months' notice, which must end no later than the last day of a tenancy period. The notice must state that possession is required under Section 21(4) of the Housing Act 1988. If the notice does not contain this information then it will be invalid and unenforceable. If the tenant does not leave the property on the date the notice expires, the landlord must apply to the Court for a Possession Order using a special procedure called ‘Accelerated Possession Proceedings.’ This means that a hearing is not normally necessary and possession will be granted by the Court as long as the correct notice has been given by the landlord.

Tenancy Deposits

Since 6 April 2007, landlords are required by law to place deposits into a Government backed scheme and to provide the tenant with certain information within a specified time period. If the landlord does not protect the deposit in this way, or does not provide the tenant with the required information, the tenant could be compensated by the landlord for the loss of the right to obtain possession of the property under the Section 21 Notice Procedures.

If the correct notice procedures are not followed, any eviction may be deemed illegal by the Courts and the tenant may be reinstated into the property. The landlord may also incur penalties.