How to evict a tenant in England

How to evict a tenant in England

10:16 AM, 4th December 2023, About 3 months ago

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Evicting a tenant is never an easy decision and usually, it’s the last choice any landlord wants to make.

With piles of paperwork to complete, it’s a decision that should not be made lightly.

We’ve made a guide for landlords on how to evict a tenant in England and will produce guides on how to evict tenants in Wales and Scotland too.

Section 21

The process of eviction will vary depending on what type of tenancy agreement is in force.

There are two types of tenancy agreements:

  1. Periodic tenancies – these run week by week or month by month with no fixed end date. They can also arise following the expiry of the fixed-term tenancy if it is not renewed for another fixed term.
  2. Fixed-term tenancies – these run for a set amount of time.

There are several grounds on which a landlord can seek possession of a property such as non-payment of rent, breach of tenancy agreement and anti-social behaviour.

If you are looking to gain back possession of your property, you’ll need to issue either a Section 21 or Section 8 under the Housing Act 1988.

A Section 21 notice of possession is served to the tenant using the form 6A and a template letter can also be used.  This means you can take back possession of your property at the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement.

The issuing of a Section 21 can also be used to trigger a break in a periodic tenancy agreement.

Make sure you give the tenant two months’ notice that you need them to leave the property.

Landlords don’t need to provide a reason to claim possession when you serve a valid Section 21.

A Section 21 notice can’t be served during the first four months of a tenancy. However, if the tenancy has been renewed following the end of a fixed term, you can serve a Section 21 notice at any point during the renewed tenancy.

How to know a Section 21 notice is valid

Landlords need to use the correct paperwork to make sure the Section 21 is valid otherwise this could cause further complications.

A landlord cannot issue a valid section 21 notice unless they have already given the tenant copies of the:

  • Gas Safety certificate
  • Energy performance certificate (EPC)
  • The government’s How to Rent guide.

The above only applies if your tenancy started or was renewed on or after 1 October 2015.

Landlords should make sure all these documents are handed to the tenant before the start of the tenancy and must be current copies.

However, a landlord can give the documents to the tenant at a later date, but they must be in the possession of the tenant before a Section 21 can be issued.

Some landlords also need to have a licence such as an HMO licence and selective licence to issue a valid Section 21.

Unless the landlord has an exemption from the council, or they are in the process of applying for a licence, then a Section 21 will not be valid.

Failure to protect a tenant’s deposit, whether by the landlord or letting agent, can hinder the ability to use a Section 21 notice for reclaiming possession of the property.

The tenant may also pursue a claim against the landlord, seeking the deposit’s return along with a penalty that could amount to three times its initial value.

How to serve a Section 21 notice

It’s important to remember that sometimes a tenant will not answer the door so a valid Section 21 cannot be served.

A landlord can deal with this by taking a witness with them and putting the notice through the letterbox before 5pm. It is then deemed to have been served on the following day.

Serving a Section 21 is never easy but do try to be as accommodating and reasonable as possible, especially if you are trying to end a tenancy with tenants who have always been good and might not want to leave.

However, if the tenant does not leave on the date specified, you have six months from the date the notice is served to apply to the court for a possession order.

Section 8

If a landlord has valid grounds to evict a tenant you can also start the eviction process by serving a Section 8, landlords must use a specific form called Form 3.

The most common reasons for evicting a tenant under Section 8 include rent arrears and damage or disrepair to the property.

Unlike Section 21, landlords must give a reason for eviction. The reasons you can use are called grounds.

There are two types of grounds, Mandatory (grounds 1–8), where a judge in court must grant possession and Discretionary (grounds 9–17)

Depending on the nature of the tenancy breach, a landlord has to give between two weeks’ and two months’ notice.

If a landlord does end up going to court, this can take time and sometimes the possession decision may not go your way. What’s worse is a tenant can sometimes completely ignore the notice which can cause even further misery.

Sometimes it’s best to use a Section 21 instead, especially if it’s approaching the end date of the agreed tenancy or it is a periodic tenancy.

Court action

If your tenant won’t budge, a landlord can use an Accelerated Possession Order, if you are using Section 21 and do not want to claim rent arrears.

This can sometimes be a quicker way to secure possession as there is usually no court hearing, but the court fee needs to be paid upfront before beginning the process.

For accelerated possession, the landlord needs to find the County Court for the area where the property is situated, and then fill in a Form N5B claim for possession.

The next step will see the court send a copy of the application to the tenant, accompanied by a response form, allowing them 14 days to raise objections.

If successful, the landlord will receive a possession order without a hearing (typically enforceable 14 days post-order) and an order for the tenant to cover the court fee.

However, if the paperwork is found to be incorrect and the tenant raises objections this can delay the process and a court hearing may be required.

If a court hearing is not needed, then the process usually takes between six and 10 weeks.

Standard possession claim

Landlords can also use the standard possession claim if they have served either a section 8 or 21 notice and want to get the property back along with claiming back rent arrears.

The same as accelerated possession, the landlord will need to find their local county court however, this time they will need to fill in form N5 claim for possession and N119 particulars of claim for possession.

Landlord Action

With piles of paperwork to complete, a landlord may sometimes feel overwhelmed when it comes to evicting a tenant.

Landlord Action can help make things easier for landlords by dealing with difficult tenants and taking the surprises out of legal action.

Landlord Action is one of the best tenant eviction specialists in the UK and can take the strain off landlords whilst making sure the eviction complies with the law.

Contact Landlord Action

Specialists in tenant eviction and debt collection. Regulated by The Law Society.


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