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Ending a tenancy

There may be certain situations in which you want your tenants to leave your property. The way you give notice depends on the kind of contract your tenants have signed, so it’s important to check before terminating a tenancy.

Where there’s a single AST to cover multiple sharers in one property, all tenants are jointly and severally liable. So for example, if one person stops paying rent, they could all face the threat of eviction.

However, if every tenant has their own AST, they’re individually responsible for rent –  and the landlord can request possession of their room only. This is useful if you want to evict just one of your tenants on a single AST (e.g. for damage or nuisance behaviour), but you may need to prove it was them who’s responsible. It might be necessary to terminate the tenancy for all tenants, before signing a new agreement with the tenants you’d like to keep.

Section 21 Notice

You can use a Section 21 notice to evict tenants either after a fixed tenancy ends, or during a tenancy with no fixed end date (a periodic tenancy) by triggering a break clause.  

You can apply for possession of your property (or a single room within that property) using a Section 21 notice – without giving any reason – if all these circumstances apply:

If you’re serving a Section 21 notice you must give your tenants at least two months written notice, which must clearly be stated in writing.

You can get a draft Section 21 notice from legal stationers'/your landlords' association, or just draft one yourself by clearly stating when you require the property to be vacated, your name and address, the tenant’s name and address and the property in question.

It's also best to let them know that if they don't leave by the end date, you’ll have to go for possession through the courts.

Section 8 Notice

If your tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy agreement, you can ask them to leave before the fixed term is up using a Section 8 notice. Reasons for this may include:

Like a Section 21 notice, you can get a draft Section 8 notice from a legal stationers or landlords' association. This notice must include the tenant’s name, the address of the property, the reason for eviction or ‘grounds for possession’ and the date the notice ends. If they don’t leave, you can go to court to seek a judgement in your favour.

You can serve both a Section 21 and a Section 8 notice at the same time. Sometimes it may be better to use a Section 21 notice even if the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement, as possession is mandatory and the process may be quicker than if supplying a Section 8 Notice.

Eviction through the courts

If at the end of the notice period your tenant still hasn’t left, you’ll have to start the eviction process through court. In order to do this you’ll need to apply to the court for a possession order – this gives you the right to evict your tenants. However you can't legally force your tenants to move out without an eviction order, as you could be accused of illegal eviction or harassment of your tenant.

At the court hearing, the judge will decide what kind of possession order to grant you. This will either be an outright possession order, a suspended or postponed possession order or a money judgement. They may also decide to adjourn the case.

Outright Possession Order

An outright possession order means the tenant must leave the property by the date given in the order – this is typically 14 days after the date the court makes the order. If the tenant hasn’t left by this date, then the next step is to apply for bailiffs to evict the tenant.  

 

Suspended Possession Order?

The court may grant you a suspended possession order, which means that the tenant has the right to stay as long as they keep to certain conditions. This might mean that the tenant has to pay off rent arrears within a certain time frame, or stop disturbing the neighbours.

Money judgements

One further judgement that can arise is a money judgement. This is a court order stating that the tenant has to pay back the arrears they owe you, whether they’re evicted or not. This affects the tenant’s credit rating and may make it harder for them to find a new home later on.

Bailiffs

Only bailiffs authorised by a court can evict tenants. This means that if your tenants still refuse to leave, you must apply to the court for a warrant for eviction. The bailiffs' office at the county court will write to your tenant to inform them of their imminent arrival, in the form of a notice of eviction (form N54).

If a tenant in rent arrears decides to pay up in cash at any point, the proceedings can be stopped. Otherwise, there will be a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against them, which will provide fair warning to other landlords who could be next in line for rent arrears by the same tenant. That’s why doing a full credit reference check on prospective tenants before signing a tenancy agreement is so important.

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