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Law guide: Landlords

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Recovering possession

Recovering possession

Contents

Many tenancies come to a natural end; for example, when the fixed term of a fixed-term tenancy ends, or the tenant decides to move, or the landlord wants the property back.

Returning the deposit

If the tenant wants to end the tenancy (after giving notice), all you'll usually need to do is agree the amount of the tenancy deposit to return to the tenant (see Returning the tenancy deposit), and prepare the property for letting to new tenants (if applicable).

Recovering possession

If you want to end the tenancy to regain possession of the property, you'll need to serve notice on the tenant (depending on the procedure or grounds for possession you're using). If the tenant doesn't leave after you've served a valid legal notice, you'll have to apply through the courts for an order for possession (to evict the tenant).

Whatever the circumstances and grounds for seeking possession, you mustn't attempt to evict the tenant yourself; you must let the courts do this on your behalf. If you take the law into your own hands, you could incur heavy fines and/or face criminal proceedings. You mustn't:

  • Forcibly evict or remove a tenant from a property
  • Harass a tenant in any way, including:
    • Removing the tenant's belongings from the property
    • Shutting off services (gas, electricity, water)
    • Changing the locks while the tenant is away from the property

The guidance in this section will help you successfully, and legally, end a tenancy and regain possession of your property.

This section covers the steps to take depending on the type of tenancy, procedure or grounds you're using and where the property is located.

England and Wales:

Assured tenancies

You can seek possession of an assured tenancy if the grounds set out in section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 apply. See Recovering possession under section 8.

The most common ground used in a section 8 notice is rent arrears. See Rent arrears possession procedure.

Assured shorthold tenancies

An assured shorthold tenancy can be ended by either

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, you're recommended to use an accelerated procedure if you fulfil the criteria as you just need to serve a valid section 21 notice and don't need any other grounds for possession. If you have to rely on any of the s 8 grounds to regain possession, getting an order for possession could take longer if the tenant defends the order.

Rent arrears is the most commonly used of the s 8 grounds; the procedure to regain possession, however, is the same whether you're relying on rent arrears or any other grounds in section 8. If you are claiming rent arrears, you can ask the court to make an order for the tenant to pay them as part of your claim if you rely on s 8. However, if you bring an application for possession using the accelerated procedure, you would have to bring a separate claim for rent in the county court.

Whichever way you seek possession, you must first serve the appropriate legal notice on the tenant to give them notice of the intended date to regain possession of the property and the ground you are using.

Scotland

Northern Ireland

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