Ending a Tenancy & Gaining Possession

Ending a Tenancy & Gaining Possession

Understanding how to legally end a tenancy is hugely important for landlords.

In this guide, we’ll explain the processes you can use to gain possession of your property…

How does a landlord end a tenancy?

There are three ways you can end an Assured Shorthold tenancy agreement and regain possession of your property

1. Section 21 notices

A section 21 possession order is the most common way of ending a tenancy.

You have the right to regain possession of your rental property at the end of a fixed term Assured Shorthold tenancy agreement and issuing the tenant with a section 21 notice is the correct way to go about this.

You won’t require a reason for issuing the notice, but you can’t end the tenancy before the end of its fixed term using a section 21 procedure, unless there is a break clause.

You must give the tenant not less than two months’ notice and once served, you should not discuss any extension or renewal as this will invalidate the notice.

2. Section 8 notices

You can end an Assured Shorthold tenancy with a section 8 possession notice if you have grounds to evict your tenant before the end of their fixed term agreement.

The Section 8 procedure under schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 is used where the landlord wishes to regain possession of the property during the term of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).

The prescribed form for the Section 8 Notice must be used in order for the Notice to be valid – but using the correct notice does not mean you will be automatically granted possession. There are a number of grounds for possession which the Court will deem as either ‘mandatory’ or ‘discretionary’ grounds for possession.

You should always seek legal advice when issuing a section 8 notice.

3. Mutual agreement

If you and your tenant mutually agree to terminate their tenancy, this can be done at any point.

In most cases, it will be the tenant who requests to terminate the tenancy, often due to a change in their circumstances.

How much notice should a landlord give?

When issuing a section 21 possession notice, you must give your tenant at least two months’ notice. If serving by post, you should allow an additional two days for service.

The end date of the tenancy is the date after which you can take possession of the property.

If your tenant’s agreement has become a month-by-month periodic tenancy due to their fixed term having already expired, you should still issue a section 21 notice with at least two months’ notice.

For a section 8 possession where grounds apply, the notice period required varies depending on the grounds being cited.

For example, a proven ground of serious rent arrears of more than two months would require you to give only two weeks’ notice to your tenant.

But if you want to move into your property yourself, you’d need to give two months’ notice.

Section 8 grounds for possession

When issuing a section 8 notice to a tenant, you can use 17 grounds for possession, which are split into mandatory grounds and discretionary grounds.

As you might expect, mandatory grounds mean a court must grant you possession of your property if they are met, while discretionary grounds are down to the court to decide.

Mandatory grounds for possession

  • The landlord requires possession as they used to occupy the property as their main home and wishes to do so again
  • The property is owned through a mortgage and the owner wishes to sell
  • The tenancy has a fixed term of eight months or less and was previously a holiday let
  • The tenancy has a fixed term of 12 months or less and the property is a student let rented out of term time
  • The property is that of a minister of religion
  • The property needs substantial redevelopment
  • The tenant has passed away
  • The tenant is in monthly rent arrears of at least two months, weekly arrears of eight weeks, one full quarter of arrears if paid quarterly and three months of arrears if paid annually

Discretionary grounds for possession

  • The landlord has offered the tenant suitable alternative accommodation on the same terms
  • The tenant is in rent arrears of less than those stated under the mandatory possession grounds
  • The tenant has consistently delayed paying their rent, regardless of any arrears
  • The tenant has broken another obligation, other than paying rent, as outlined in the tenancy agreement
  • The property has been damaged through the conduct of the tenant, or any sub-tenants, lodgers, or visitors of the tenant
  • The tenant, or those visiting the tenant, has caused nuisance to neighbours or used the property for illegal or immoral gains
  • The landlord’s furniture has been damaged or mis-treated
  • The tenant was an employee of the landlord but has now left their employment
  • The landlord granted the tenancy based on a statement from the tenant that later proved to be false

Will section 21 notices be abolished?

The proposed Renters Reform Bill would see the end of section 21 possession notices should it become law in 2022.

Instead, you would need to issue a section 8 notice to regain possession of your property – even at the end of a fixed term – with at least two months’ notice.

The Bill also proposes to expand the section 8 grounds for possession, while improving the court process for landlords.

Tips for landlords when gaining possession

1. Keep written records

When seeking to regain possession of your rental property, always keep written records of any correspondence you have with your tenant.

Effective communication is crucial during the possession process and can help things run smoothly.

2. Always be fair and reasonable

When giving notice to your tenant, always try to be accommodating and consider their needs.

If your tenants have been good throughout their tenancy and request an extra week or two to vacate your property, consider this.

Further reading…