Assured Shorthold Tenancies - Repossession by Landlord
The courts will usually allow the landlord to take possession of the property if the fixed period of the tenancy has come to an end and the landlord has given at least two months notice to the tenant in writing before starting court proceedings.
If however the tenants are in breach of any part of the agreement then the landlord may be able to apply for possession, even if the tenancy period has not come to an end. He or she can rely on any of grounds 2,8,10,11,12, 13,14,14A, 15 or 17 as applies to assured tenancies.
Before any action can be taken to obtain a Possession Order from the Court, the Landlord must serve a Notice of Intention to seek possession proceedings.
How much notice needs to be given will depend on which ground the Landlord uses as a reason for getting a Possession Order. (see below for grounds).
For ground 2, the Landlord must give two months notice.
For grounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14A, 15 and 17 the Landlord must give two weeks notice.
Notice must be given on a special form, which must tell the tenants certain things about their rights (Section 8 Notice). Proceedings must start within 12 months of service of the Notice otherwise a new Notice must be served.
The property is subject to a mortgage and the mortgagees are repossessing the property to enforce the charge. Written notice should be given before or at the time the tenancy begins that possession may be required under this ground. (The court can sometimes allow possession under this ground even if no notice is given).
Rent is unpaid at the time of service of Notice seeking possession and at the time of the hearing for a Possession Order;
a. In the case of rent paid weekly or fortnightly at least eight weeks rent must be owing.
b. In the case of rent paid monthly at least two months rent must be owing.
c. In the case of rent paid quarterly at least one quarters rent is more than three months overdue.
d. In the case of rent paid yearly at least three months rent is more than three months overdue.
Two months rent arrears will normally give the Landlord an automatic right to a Possession Order.
Rent which is lawfully due from the tenant has not been paid by the time the possession proceedings are started and was owed at the time the Notice seeking possession was served. If a tenant has been offering the Landlord rent and the Landlord refused to take it the tenant will have a defence to the possession proceedings but must pay the amount owed in to court.
The tenant has repeatedly failed to pay rent on time. There need not be rent arrears at the time possession proceedings started.
The tenant has breached their part of the Tenancy Agreement. The breach must relate to one of the tenant's obligations under the tenancy agreement.
The tenant, or anyone living with him/her have allowed the property or parts of it (including common parts) to deteriorate. If the deterioration has been caused by someone living with the tenant, and the tenant has failed to get rid of that person then a Possession Order may be made.
The tenant or a person living with him/her or visiting him/her has caused or is likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to neighbours or their neighbours guests or visitors to the area. Or the tenant has been convicted of using the property for immoral or illegal purposes or has been convicted for an arrestable offence committed in the area.
A married couple, or common law couples live in the property and one of them is the tenant of the property and one of them has left the property because of violence or threats of violence from the other partner or a member of that partner's family who is also living in the property. The Landlord must be a Housing Association/Trust etc. (but not a Private Landlord) to be able to use this ground. The court also has to be satisfied that the partner who has left the property is unlikely to return. Also the partner who has left must be served with a Notice seeking possession so they know about the possession proceedings.
Furniture at the property has deteriorated because the tenant or someone living with the tenant has not looked after the furniture. If the damage has been caused by someone living with the tenant and the tenant has not taken steps to get rid of that person then a Possession Order may be made against the tenant.
The tenant or one of the tenants, or a person acting on the instruction of the tenant has given false information to the Landlord which has made the Landlord grant the tenancy.
If the period of an assured shorthold tenancy comes to an end and the tenant carries on living in the property the tenancy becomes a "periodic tenancy".
It does not give the tenant any more protection because the landlord can still bring the tenancy to an end by serving at least two months written notice and applying to the court for a possession order.
(For a periodic tenancy the last day of the notice period should be the same as the last date on which rent is normally due, so this might make the notice period longer than two months, if for example the tenant usually pays his or her rent every 3 months).
If a court is satisfied that a landlord is entitled to possession on one of the grounds, (2, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14A, 15 or 17) or because the tenancy has come to an end and a 2 month written notice has been served, then the court must grant a possession order to take effect within 14 days. This can be extended to 6 weeks in the case of exceptional hardship.
The court also has a discretion once it has made a possession order to "stay" or "suspend" the possession order, or postpone the date for possession until such time as it thinks fit, or adjourn (postpone) the court proceedings. If an order is suspended or stayed, or proceedings are adjourned the court will usually make an order that the arrears are paid in the meantime. The court will usually look at the tenant's income and expenses and the level of the arrears, as well as other factors.
If a possession order is made then a tenant may have the following options open to them;
1) Apply to set aside the possession order. Good reasons may include that the tenant was not present at court when the order was made and has a defence. Or new evidence has come to light since the possession order was made. The application is usually made in the County Court using an "Application Notice" form together with a witness statement explaining why the order should be set aside.
An appeal should be made on a "Notice of Appeal" form within 14 days of the date the possession order was made, if the order was made by a "district judge". Permission to appeal to a circuit judge is first required. If permission is refused by the district judge then a further application for appeal can be made to the circuit judge. If the possession order was made by a "circuit judge" then it is necessary to apply for permission to make an appeal to the High Court.
3) Suspend or stay any warrant taken out to enforce a possession order. This is usually done to buy more time in order to pay the arrears or to buy more time to apply to set aside the order.
(see Warrants of Execution).
If you want to stop an eviction by a bailiff then you must act quickly. You should go to the court and pick up an "Application Form Notice" and apply for what is called a "Stay of Execution", (as long as your landlord is not relying on grounds 9, 10, 10A or 11).
Even if you have been evicted by a bailiff you can still apply to "Set Aside" the possession order but you must have good reasons. A good reason may be for example, that the warrant was obtained by fraud or their was oppression in its execution.
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