There are only two ways to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy – by agreement between the landlord and tenant or by a Court Order. To take repossession illegally gives the tenant the ability to sue the landlord but is also a CRIMINAL OFFENCE!!!!!.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)
Only certain tenancies can be Assured Shortholds. The law excludes some cases that CANNOT be Assured Shortholds as follows:
- Where the landlord lives in the same property as the tenant.
- The rent is greater than £100,000 per year (increased from £25,000 on 1st October 2010).
- The property is not the tenant’s main or principle home.
- Lettings to a company.
- The rent is nil or very low.
- Holiday homes.
- Agricultural/licensed premises.
My tenant is often late paying the rent, can I serve Notice?
YES!!! The law allows you to serve a Section 8 Notice if the tenant “has persistently delayed paying the rent …”. The Courts do not have to give you repossession in these circumstances but may give an Order that the tenant pays the rent (and maybe a sum off the arrears). If the tenant ignores this Court Order, you may be able to apply for repossession (see http://www.mrlandlord.co.uk/question1/).
If the tenant is over 2 months in arrears (depending on the terms of the tenancy), the Courts MUST give a Repossession order, (subject to various legal “stuff”).
The initial tenancy has ended, can I take repossession?
NO!!!! Once the original tenancy ends, you can either enter into another agreement with the tenant for a new period OR if you and the tenant do nothing, the law automatically creates a “periodic tenancy”. This will have the same terms and conditions (i.e. rent etc) as the original tenancy but runs monthly until the tenant & landlord agree to end it or the Courts give a Repossession order. If the landlord wants to end it and the tenant does not agree, you need to serve a Section 21 Notice. (see http://www.mrlandlord.co.uk/question5/)
Giving (serving) the Notice to the tenant
VERY IMPORTANT. The dates on the Notices are very important. If they are wrong the Courts will reject a request to evict your tenant. If you put in the correct start/end date for the tenancy in the questions, the system automatically works out the correct dates for the Notice to end. These dates are based on the day you are answering the questions & the law which gives very difference expiry dates depending on your individual circumstances. The system adds a safety margin of 7 days to allow the tenant to receive the Notice. IT IS OF THE HIGHEST IMPORTANCE THAT THE NOTICE IS ACTUALLY RECEIVED BY THE TENANT WITHIN 7 DAYS OF YOU PREPARING IT ON LINE.
To “serve” the Notice, once you have printed and signed it, you do not have to physically hand it to the tenant. Some tenancy agreements have a service clause in them, for example saying “Any Notice to be served on the Tenant shall be deemed to have been served on the Tenant if it is: posted by ordinary post to the property etc”. If your tenancy has a Service clause, follow it. If not, delivery by hand to the property is a good option. Whatever you do, keep a note of how it was served (given) to the tenant so that if you need to go to Court, you can confirm how and when the Notice was served.
There are different Section 21 Notices – which one do I use?
This area of the law is complex so we work it all out for you. Our system automatically calculates where about you are in the tenancy agreement (during a fixed term, in the last two months of a fixed term or after the fixed term has expired) and from that produces the correct Notice with the correct date the Notice ends. UPDATE – since a Court of Appeal Decision in November 2103, the need for a Section 21 Notice to expire on the anniversary of a periodic tenancy has been removed. If you have any queries regarding this new interpretation of the legislation, please call us on 01704 534171
What happens once the Notice has expired?
The Notice tells the tenant that Court proceedings can start after a certain date. You cannot commence proceedings before that date NOR can you just take repossession without a Court Order. We are able to issue proceedings for you once the Notice has expired, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to do this for you.
How long will the eviction take?
VERY IMPORTANT. The dates on the Notices are very important. If they are wrong the Courts will reject a request to evict your tenant. If you put in the correct start/end date for the tenancy as per the questions, the system automatically works out the correct dates for the Notice to end.
The length of time taken depends if you are taking action for rent arrears (or other breach of tenancy), Section 8 or just because you want repossession at the end of the tenancy, Section 21.
Rent arrears – normally you give 2 weeks notice (dependant on how often the rent is due). We can then issue Court proceedings for you (contact us at email@example.com to do so for you). The Courts give a hearing date, this is usually between 8 & 12 weeks from applying, depending on how busy the Courts are. If the Court grants a repossession order, this gives the tenant between 2 and 6 weeks (the maximum allowed) to leave. The above would give approximately 12 to 14 weeks from serving the Section 8 to getting repossession.
Section 21 – normally you give 2 months notice (dependant on how often the rent is due). The Court process CAN be a little quicker using Accelerated Possession Proceedings (a bit of a misleading title) but you should assume between 8 & 12 weeks for the Court to grant a Repossession order. The tenant will then have up to 6 weeks to leave. This would mean it could take approximately 20 weeks from serving the Section 21 to regaining repossession (subject to all sorts of rules & regulations).
I did not get my tenant to sign a tenancy agreement. Can I still serve Notice.
For a tenancy agreement created after 28th February 1997 a written agreement is not essential. If you do not have a written agreement, your tenant will initially have a six month fixed term tenancy. Evicting a tenant without a written agreement is more difficult but if you can prove payments of rent by the tenant, you should be able to use a Section 21 Notice (see http://www.mrlandlord.co.uk/question5/)
I think my tenant has moved out but they have left personal possessions there, can I take repossession?
NO!!!!! There are only two ways to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy – by agreement between the landlord and tenant or by a Court Order. If you are not sure your tenant has left the property, the only safe way to protect yourself is by going through the legal system to get a Court Order granting you repossession. There are cases where tenants have successfully sued their landlords where the landlord took repossession and the tenant then claimed to have been away on holiday etc. To take repossession illegally gives the tenant the ability to sue the landlord but is also a CRIMINAL OFFENCE!!!!!.
When do I pay Mr Landlord?
Once you have gone through the on line questions, a screen will show the basic details on the Notice such as your name & address, the tenant’s name and address etc., you will be asked to confirm they are correct (if not, you can go back to amend any spelling errors etc). Once you click on the “PROCEED” button, you will be linked into the secure SagePay web site. Only when you have gone through that process will you be charged.
Once you have paid, a copy of the Notice will appear on screen for you to print, sign & give to the tenant. Additionally, a copy of the Notice will be emailed to you so you can save a copy of it and/or print it again. The Notice must be given to the tenant within 4 days of printing it.
Can I use the Notice for another tenant?
The data used to produce the Notices is very specific to a particular letting/tenant. Additionally, even if serving the same Notice to the same tenant tomorrow, the dates can change dramatically meaning attempting to re-use a Notice will inevitably mean the expiry date on it is wrong and therefore would fail if the matter eventually went to Court.
If your query is not shown, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will try to add it to our FAQs.