To regain possession of a rental property, you must give your tenant formal written notice.  This notice must include the date by which they must leave. How much notice  a landlord needs to give a tenant will vary depending on the individual circumstances of the tenancy agreement but, generally speaking, it is at least 4 weeks. 

There are however different types of tenancies and these have their own rules.  We shall look at the most common in this blog.

How do you end an assured shorthold tenancy?

Assured shorthold tenancies or ASTs are the most common type of tenancy in England.

A common way in which an AST can be ended, by serving a Section 21 notice (or, as it is sometimes refereed to, a no-fault eviction) and the landlord does not need to give a reason to do so if:

  1. It has been at least 6 months since the tenants signed the original tenancy agreement 
  2. It is a periodic or rolling tenancy 
  3. The tenant has agreed to leave the property after the fixed term of their tenancy has ended 

It is also important to note that for a Section 21 notice to be validly served, your tenants’ deposit will have to have been protected with a deposit protection scheme and you will have to provide them with: an energy performance certificate, a gas safety certificate and a copy of the current version of the Government’s ‘How to rent: checklist for renting in England’ booklet.  You must also use the prescribed form of section 21 notice (Form 6A).

How do you end a fixed term tenancy? 

You can ask your tenant to leave at any time during their tenure if they break the terms of their lease by serving a Section 8 notice.

The common terms broken by tenants include failing to pay rent and using the property illegally.

However, if the reason for eviction is criminal – for example the tenants’ behaviour has been deemed as anti-social behaviour or they have been involved in domestic violence – you may be able to reduce the notice period.

How do you end an excluded tenancy?

An excluded tenancy or license is a rental agreement for someone who lives in your property with you and shares your communal rooms, for example your living room and/or kitchen.

To terminate an excluded lease, the law simply states that you must provide your lodger with ‘reasonable notice’. 

The definition of ‘reasonable’ is generally thought of as matching the collection of rent.  If you charge your tenant monthly,  you would give them one month’s notice.  If you collect your rent weekly, you could give them a week’s notice although there is scope to argue one week is not a reasonable length of time for your tenant.

It is also important to note that if you are terminating an excluded tenancy, you will not need to go to court to action the eviction in the same way as you would for a Section 21 or Section 8 notice.

Can landlords use break clauses to end a tenancy?

Most tenancy agreements will include a break clause.  This allows landlords to give a tenant notice after a certain period of time has passed.

It is very rare, however, that a break clause will allow you to regain possession of your property during the first 6 months of a tenancy.

Are there faster ways to evict a tenant? 

If you do need to accelerate the eviction process you could consider applying to the court for an Accelerated Possession Order.

However, while this can speed up the eviction process, you cannot use an Accelerated Possession Order in every situation. 

One situation in which you can use the accelerated procedure is if you have issued a Section 21 notice and there are no rent arrears involved.  In this instance you should use form N5B.  The accelerated procedure will also allow you to avoid having to go to court, but you will still need to pay the court fee. 

What do you do if your tenant refuses to leave the property once you serve notice?

If the notice period you have given your tenant has expired and your tenant has not left the property, you will have to go to court to evict them.

Evicting them yourself isn’t an option.  Contrary to popular belief you can’t just change the locks or remove their belongings.  This is an illegal action and is likely to end with you facing legal action.

This is the point where you need to engage a lawyer with specific property and landlord and tenant experience.  They will be able to guide you through the process and ensure you reach your desired outcome without falling foul of the law.

Please note this blog does not constitute legal advice. If you would like to discuss a specific eviction issue with one of the specialist property barristers in our Civil Law team or have any other legal questions relating to property or landlord and tenant issues, please contact us today.

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