As a landlord there will be times when you may need to seek possession of your property, for example if your tenants are in arrears or your property has been damaged through anti-social behaviour (the most common reasons).
Worryingly, 37 per cent of landlords have experienced arrears in the last 12 months – this rises to 68 per cent for landlords who have tenants in receipt of housing benefit – and 31 per cent have had property damaged over the last year.
All good landlords want sustainable long-term tenancies, but there are close to 200,000 possession claims issued each year and if things took a turn for the worse, would you know how to go about seeking possession quickly and legally?
What are your options?
You must serve notice on your tenants in order to claim possession. If your tenants have signed an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), there are two options open to you.
- Section 21(S21) – known as an Accelerated Possession Procedure, or
- Section 8 (S8) – known as a Standard Procedure
This route gives you the right to possession at, or after, the expiry of the tenancy fixed term provided you serve a S21 notice to your tenants two months in advance. Remember, you are not automatically entitled to possession upon expiry of the tenancy unless you first issue this notice. This route means there is no need for a court hearing so it is likely to be less hassle. However, using a S21 procedure means you won’t be able to make a money claim, so if you’re in significant arrears it won’t help you reclaim the outstanding rent.
Use a S8 notice if the terms of the tenancy have been breached. You have the right to possession on 17 different grounds – commonly rent arrears – and the length of the notice will vary upon the grounds on which you are seeking possession. S8 claims also allow for a money judgement to be obtained along with an order for possession, but can often be lengthy as they are likely to be defended by the tenant.
Time is of the essence
Where both routes apply – such as when the tenancy is ending and there are also rent in arrears – it is often simpler and quicker to use the faster S21 route which will mean you’re able to re-let your property sooner, especially if you’re unlikely to recover money from your tenants in the long-run.
Find out how with the NLA – book on to one of our possessions courses today
Claiming possession of property can be concerning and stressful for all involved. Our one-day course will equip you with the knowledge to do it quickly and legally, saving hundreds of pounds. By the end of the course you’ll also understand what to expect if your case ends up in court and you’ll pick up top tips to make sure you avoid harassment and unlawful eviction.
To book or for details of forthcoming possessions courses, visit the courses calendar here.