It’s recently been stated in the Telegraph that the eviction of tenants from rented properties has reached the highest level in five years.
Dispute Resolution solicitor Michelle Hayter says, “We have certainly seen an increase in eviction cases at Frettens and with an increase in evictions we have also seen an increase in the number of cases where landlords have been unable to regain possession due to the incorrect procedure being used or serving defective notices.”
There are two main ways of regaining possession of a residential property. These are;
- Possession proceedings pursuant to Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988
- Possession proceedings pursuant to Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.
The Section 21 procedure is appropriate where the landlord simply wants to regain possession at the end of the fixed term or period of a tenancy. Under Section 21 the landlord cannot seek judgement for payment of rent arrears or cite this as a ground for possession being required. The Section 8 procedure is appropriate where the landlord is seeking possession on the grounds of rent arrears or other breaches of the tenancy agreement. There are other grounds for possession under Section 8 however serious rent arrears is the most commonly used ground.
Neither of these procedures are simple and under both provisions, a landlord must serve the correct notice and ensure that it is not defective or their case will be thrown out. A landlord must also remember that they are not allowed to evict the tenant without a Court Order and even then, if the tenant still fails to leave on the required date, the landlord must obtain a warrant for possession and have a County Court bailiff evict the tenant. Failure to follow this procedure can result in a prosecution against the landlord for unlawful eviction.
It is fair to say that the lettings market is currently very buoyant, but, as in every sector of the economy, with increased levels of business comes increased levels of risk and disputes. If a landlord does find themselves in the position of needing to regain possession of their property for any reason, it is always worth taking legal advice before embarking on a course of action.