As a landlord, you may have to make the difficult decision to evict a tenant. This could be for many reasons, such as rent arrears, damage, nuisance, or simply because you want to sell or move back into the property. However, evicting a tenant is not a simple or easy process. You must follow strict rules and procedures to avoid breaking the law and facing penalties.
Keep reading to learn how to evict a tenant legally in England and Wales, depending on the type of tenancy agreement they have and the grounds for eviction. We will also tell you how Lawhive can help you find a solicitor if you need legal advice or representation on any eviction issue.
What type of tenancy agreement does your tenant have?
The type of tenancy agreement your tenant has will affect how you can evict them and what notice you need to give them. The most common type of tenancy agreement is an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), which can be either fixed-term or periodic.
A fixed-term AST runs for a set amount of time, usually 6 or 12 months. A periodic AST runs on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis with no fixed end date. It can be created when a fixed-term AST expires and is not renewed, or when there is no written agreement.
If your tenant has an AST, you can evict them using either a Section 21 notice or a Section 8 notice, depending on the reason for eviction. We will explain these notices in more detail below.
If your tenant has an excluded tenancy or licence, such as if they live with you or share facilities with you, you do not have to go to court to evict them. You only need to give them reasonable notice to quit, which usually means the length of the rental payment period.
If your tenant has an assured or regulated tenancy, which are less common types of tenancies that started before 1997, they have more protection from eviction. You can only evict them on certain grounds and you will need to go to court.
You can check what type of tenancy agreement your tenant has using Shelter’s tenancy status checker.
How to evict a tenant using a Section 21 notice
A Section 21 notice is also known as a “no fault” eviction notice, because you do not need to give a reason for wanting your tenant to leave. You can use one in three situations: when you want to end a fixed-term AST at the end of the term, when you want to end a periodic AST at any time, or when you do not have any grounds for eviction under Section 8.
However, there are some conditions that you must meet before you can use a Section 21 notice. You must:
Give your tenant at least two months’ notice in writing
Use Form 6A or a letter with all the same information on it
Protect your tenant’s deposit in a deposit protection scheme and give them information about it
Give your tenant copies of the property’s energy performance certificate, gas safety certificate, and the government’s ‘How to rent’ guide
Not charge your tenant any fees or deposits that are not allowed by law
Not evict your tenant because they complained about the property
Apply to the court for a possession order within six months of giving the notice
If you do not meet these conditions, your Section 21 notice__ may be invalid__ and you may not be able to evict your tenant. You should get legal advice from a solicitor or a housing adviser before you use a Section 21 notice.
Once you give your tenant a valid Section 21 notice and they do not leave by the date specified on the notice, you will need to apply to the court for an accelerated possession order. This is a faster and cheaper way of getting a possession order than using Section 8. However, you cannot claim any unpaid rent from your tenant using this method. You will need to use Section 8 if you want to recover any rent arrears from your tenant.
If the court grants you an accelerated possession order and your tenant still does not leave, you will need to apply for a warrant of possession. This will allow bailiffs to evict your tenant from the property.
How to evict a tenant using a Section 8 notice
A Section 8 notice is also known as an eviction notice for breach of contract, because you need to have a reason for wanting your tenant to leave that is based on the terms of the tenancy agreement. You can use a Section 8 notice if:
Your tenant has rent arrears of at least two months or eight weeks
Your tenant has damaged the property or its contents
Your tenant has caused nuisance or annoyance to you or the neighbours
Your tenant has broken any other terms of the tenancy agreement
There are 17 grounds for eviction under Section 8, which are set out in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988. Some of them are mandatory, which means the court must grant you a possession order if you prove them. Some of them are discretionary, which means the court may grant you a possession order if it thinks it is reasonable to do so.
You must give your tenant a written Section 8 notice that states:
The ground or grounds for eviction
The facts that support the ground or grounds
The date by which your tenant must leave the property
The amount of notice you must give your tenant depends on the ground or grounds for eviction. It can be as short as two weeks or as long as two months. If your tenant does not leave by the date on the Section 8 notice, you will need to apply to the court for a standard possession order. You will need to pay a fee and attend a hearing, where you will have to prove your case to a judge. You can also claim any unpaid rent from your tenant using this method.
If the court grants you a standard possession order and your tenant still does not leave, you will need to apply for a warrant of possession. This will allow bailiffs to evict your tenant from the property.
What process should I follow?
Evicting a tenant legally can be a complex and stressful process. You must follow the rules and procedures carefully and avoid making any mistakes that could invalidate your notice or doing anything that may be seen as illegal eviction. You may also face resistance or challenges from your tenant. This table may be helpful to understand what method is the most appropriate for your case:
Type of notice
Reason for eviction
Form 6A or letter
No reason needed
At least 2 months
Accelerated possession order
Section 8 notice
Breach of contract (one or more of 17 grounds)
Depends on ground (2 weeks to 2 months)
Standard possession order
Excluded tenancy or licence
Verbal or written notice to quit
No reason needed
Reasonable notice (usually length of rental period)
No court order needed
Assured or regulated tenancy
Section 8 notice or notice to quit (depending on ground)
Breach of contract (one or more of 17 grounds) or landlord needs property back for personal reasons
Depends on ground and type of tenancy (2 weeks to 2 months)
Standard possession order