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Losing Private Rented Accommodation

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), this below information describes the correct legal procedure your landlord must follow in order to evict you from your accommodation. If you are asked to leave your accommodation by your landlord and you are not sure what type of tenancy you have, you should seek advice immediately from the Housing Advice Team.

If you are sure that you have an assured tenancy or an assured shorthold tenancy you should be aware that you do not have to leave your accommodation until the Court orders that you must leave. You should also be aware that you may incur court costs/solicitors fees as a result of the correct legal procedure being followed.

Assured Tenancies

This type of tenancy is defined by the Housing Act 1988. You may have such a tenancy if you fulfil the following, although this is not an exhaustive list:-

  • Your tenancy started on or after 15th January 1989
  • Your landlord did not live in any part of the property when the tenancy started
  • You do not share any living space with a member of your landlord’s family
  • You do not occupy your accommodation as part of your job
  • You do not rent your home from an educational institution
  • You are not occupying the property for a holiday
  • You were not given a notice before your tenancy started to say that it is an assured shorthold tenancy 

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Assured Shorthold Tenancies

This tenancy is also defined by the Housing Act 1988 and is the most common type of tenancy given by private landlords. In order to have an assured shorthold tenancy, the landlord must:-

  • Have given you a notice before the tenancy started that the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold. The notice must have been in a special format and is known as a Section 20 Notice.
  • Have agreed a fixed term for the tenancy of at least six months 

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Notice to Quit

In order to bring your tenancy to an end, your landlord or agent must serve you with a valid Notice of proceedings for Possession, regardless of whether you have an assured tenancy or an assured shorthold tenancy.

The notice must be in writing and give at least 2 weeks or 2 months notice, depending on why your landlord wants you to leave. If your notice does not give you this, the notice may not be valid and the landlord will have to serve another valid notice.

For assured shorthold tenants, the notice must give a minimum of 2 months notice if the tenancy is not to be renewed. However, if the terms of the tenancy have been broken, the landlord can serve the relevant notice of 2 months or 2 weeks at any time during the tenancy.

If you receive a Notice to Quit from your landlord please contact the Housing Advice Team, do not leave it until it expires.  Tel: 01202 633804

For tenancies that started after the 1st of October 2015, there are extra provisions (a legal requirement) that the landlord must follow in order to evict a tenant. Click here for further information. 

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Expiry of the Notice

Once the notice has expired, your landlord or agent will have to apply to the County Court for possession of the property. For a possession order to be granted by the County Court, the landlord must prove that a ground for eviction exists. There are 16 grounds for possession as laid down by the Housing Act 1988.

It should be noted that 8 of the grounds are mandatory grounds, which means the court has no choice but to grant possession if the ground for possession has been satisfied. The remaining 8 grounds are discretionary grounds which mean possession can be suspended subject to any conditions that the Court may wish to impose.

In most cases there will be no need to go to court and the proceedings can be conducted by completing the relevant court paperwork. This is known as the Accelerated Possession procedure.

However, if there is a dispute between yourself and the landlord, or the ground on which your landlord is applying for possession is a discretionary ground, you will need to attend a court hearing. Proceedings cannot begin until the set period of the notice has expired.

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Fast Track Possession

This procedure enables landlords to obtain possession without a Court hearing. Once the notice has expired, the landlord completes an "application for possession" which is obtained from the County Court. The application will state the ground on which the landlord is applying for possession. A copy of the tenancy agreement and notice requiring possession must be attached to the application.

As the tenant you will then receive from the Court, a copy of the "application for possession" completed.

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Court Hearing

It is always advisable to attend a Court Hearing. If you do need to attend Court, you should:-

  • Seek advice from either Housing and Community Services, Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor
  • Prepare your case/defence fully before the hearing so that you know what you are going to say
  • Take any evidence with you to the Court e.g. invalid notice, any letters etc.
  • Give your reasons at the Court why the landlord should not get possession against you

The Court will decide what should happen and the judgement will be made at the hearing. You will then be notified in writing.

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Expiry of the Court Order

If you have not left the accommodation when the Court Order expires, the landlord must apply for a bailiff’s warrant to evict you. You will generally be notified by the Court, when the eviction will take place. It may be possible to suspend the bailiffs warrant by applying back to Court.

In most cases the legal procedure is a formality and you will be evicted. If this is the case you should be actively seeking alternative accommodation.

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Useful Contacts:

Citizens Advice Bureau
54 Lagland Street
01202 670716   

30 Poole Hill
0808 800 0380

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