A Simple Guide to Vacant Possession
Thankfully, most tenants comply with their tenancy agreements and pay their rent on time. However, occasionally, things go wrong. With the recent cuts in benefits more and more tenants are struggling to pay their rent. In addition, some tenants do not have the same degree of respect for their accommodation as an owner occupier. In such cases a landlord is best placed to deal with the situation if they are a member of a professional organisation such as the RLA. The RLA has its own team of fully trained and dedicated advisers who deal with these cases each day.
Basically, there are only two ways a tenancy can lawfully be ended.
The most straight forward way is if a tenant gives the landlord written notice of leaving, clears all their belongings out and returns the keys on the day of departure.
The only other way is if the landlord takes the initiative and gives the tenant a notice seeking possession. For most tenancies these notices are called section 21 or section 8.
This is the first step in what could be a three stage process before a tenant is evicted. This process is both costly and long winded.
STAGE ONE involves serving one or other of the two Notices to Quit.
The Section 21 Notice requires no reason or grounds for serving it but the landlord needs to give at least a clear two months' notice to the tenant and may need to meet other conditions such as the requirements of the Deregulation Act 2015.
The other one is the Section 8 Notice and this is served when there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement. There are no fewer than 17 grounds on which you can serve a Section 8 Notice. It is most commonly used for serious rent arrears, I.E. Grounds 8, 10 and 11 where at least 14 days' notice of leaving is needed.
STAGE TWO involves making an application to the County Court for a Possession Order where a court fee of £355 is paid to the court.
STAGE THREE may be needed if the tenant takes no heed of the Possession Order and the landlord makes a further application to the court for eviction. A further court fee of £121 is payable.
This Guide is only a simplified version of the vacant possession process. There are many pitfalls along the way waiting for landlords which might result in the application for possession being refused by the court. Further detailed and professional advice is available to RLA members from the RLA's Advice Team. They will nurse you along every step of the process and will do their best to ensure the application is successful.