Can I Be Evicted if I Don’t Have a Tenancy Agreement?

mariam-abu-hussein
Mariam Abu HusseinLegal Assessment Specialist @ Lawhive
Updated on 7th February 2024

The number of households renting their home has more than doubled since 2001. As a tenant without secured tenancy, it pays to know your rights and fight back against landlords breaking the law. 

In this article, we explore the legal rights and protections for tenants without a written tenancy agreement. From eviction processes to tenant coverage under the law, understand your rights and navigate the legal landscape with confidence.

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We know facing eviction can be incredibly stressful. Keep reading to be sure to arm yourself with the facts and empower yourself to avoid unlawful eviction by understanding your rights and your landlord’s responsibilities

We cover:

  • Whether a tenancy agreement needs to be written

  • Tenants’ rights without a written agreement

  • Can a landlord evict someone if they don’t have a tenancy agreement?

Does a tenancy agreement have to be written?

A tenancy agreement doesn't have to be written, but verbal agreements are not usually a good idea.

This is because a written agreement includes the rights and obligations of tenant and landlord throughout a tenancy. From a landlord’s perspective, a written agreement is beneficial as it makes the process of eviction that much easier. For tenants, it can help them know their rights and what actions to take.

A tenancy can be created under the Law of Property Act 1925 when:

  • A tenant moves in

  • The term is three years or less

  • Rent is paid at the market value.

When a landlord allows a tenant to stay at their property with the verbal agreement that they’ll pay a fixed monthly fee an assured shorthold tenancy will have been created. 

Moreover, a written agreement is not necessarily a tenancy agreement. At the point that someone has moved into a property and has started paying rent, a tenancy has begun. 

What rights do tenants have without a written agreement?

You might think that without a written agreement a tenant doesn’t have any rights. However, under the Protection from Eviction Act 1971, a tenant is protected from eviction even without a written tenancy agreement. 

As a tenant with a tenancy agreement, you have statutory rights protecting you even without a written agreement. Indeed, a landlord is still protected by statutory and common law when there is a verbal agreement only.

Tenants with a verbal agreement are entitled to the same statutory rights that a tenant with a written agreement is, including:

  • Running water

  • Alterations and decoration can be made with the landlord’s permission

  • Heating

  • Safe environment

  • Privacy

  • ‘Quiet enjoyment’ - meaning your landlord cannot harass you 

  • A fair and legal eviction process

  • Landlords must repair and maintain the property

On the other side of the coin, you have the same responsibilities as a tenant with a written agreement including:

  • The commitment to pay rent in full and on time

  • Take care of the property

  • Report necessary repairs to the landlord as soon as possible.

Can I be evicted if I don’t have a tenancy agreement?

When a verbal agreement, known as a tenancy at will, has been entered into a tenancy has been created.

Usually, either party can give 30 days’ notice when they want to end the agreement. This agreement will not specify the terms and conditions of the tenancy and makes it harder to lawfully evict a tenant.

However, you can still be evicted via a Section 8 Notice.

The fact that it makes it harder for a landlord to evict you can be an advantage to not having a written agreement, however, this is not a reason to start a tenancy without a written agreement. 

The truth is, without a written agreement you will have many fewer protections in place and have little understanding of your rights and obligations unless you do your research. 

Verbal agreements are created when:

  • An offer is made

  • A tenant accepts the offer

  • A payment is made.

Can a landlord evict a tenant without a written tenancy agreement? 

Evicting a tenant without a written agreement is possible if a landlord applies to the courts for a Possession Order – which can be a long-drawn-out process, this is also known as a Section 8 Notice, and a landlord must have grounds for eviction to apply for one.

If you get a Section 8 Notice:

  • This is the first step your landlord must take in an eviction process

  • You don’t have to leave the property immediately

  • Your landlord needs to go to court to evict you

  • You may be able to challenge your eviction

  • You may also be served with a Section 21 Notice

  • You’ll usually get 14 days’ notice before you have to leave the property

  • A notice is invalid unless it includes: your name, the address of the property, the grounds for possession, and your notice period.

Landlords, however, can't use a Section 21 notice (also known as no-fault eviction) if there is no written tenancy agreement in place.

Tenant’s rights solicitors

A tenancy agreement that has been written by an expert landlord and tenant lawyer sets out the conditions of a tenancy in black and white and ensures disagreements can be quickly resolved.

You should always be suspicious about a landlord asking you to start a tenancy based on a verbal agreement, they may have unethical intentions, and you will lack protection.

Without a written agreement everything bar statutory rights are out the window and a tenant and landlord can argue until blue in the face. Therefore, you are in a much safer position if you request a landlord to create a written agreement. 

If you have a written agreement but need help interpreting it to ensure your rights are protected we can help.

At Lawhive, our tenant solicitors can help if you are facing eviction and you’re unsure of what to do. Contact us today for a free case assessment to get started.

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