Eviction of assured shorthold tenants
Most tenants renting from a private landlord are assured shorthold tenants. Landlords must follow certain steps to evict assured shorthold tenants but don’t always need to give a reason to do so. This means that you could be evicted even if it is not your fault.
Shelter Cymru can help you, see our advice near you for an advice surgery near you.
If you are an assured shorthold tenant being evicted from a property in England the law is different and you should contact Shelter.
The 3 steps to eviction
To evict an assured shorthold tenant, your landlord has to follow 3 steps :
Step 1 : Notice
The first step in eviction is for your landlord to give you a written notice.
Tenants with a fixed term tenancy
If you have a fixed term tenancy your landlord has to have a reason (or ‘ground’) to evict you before the fixed term ends (see below). There must also be a term in your agreement allowing him/her to end the tenancy early.
Once there is a reason to evict you the landlord must provide a written notice. This must state the ‘ground’ your landlord is using. The notice has to be for a set length of time and must let you know that after that time ends your landlord can apply to the court for a possession order. The length of time on the notice depends on the reason your landlord is evicting you. It can be either 14 days or 2 months, depending on the reason your landlord is using.
Tenants with periodic tenancies : ‘section 21 – no fault’ procedure
Once a fixed term tenancy comes to an end it will automatically become a statutory periodic tenancy unless your landlord asks you to sign a new fixed term agreement.
If you have a periodic tenancy your landlord does not necessarily need a reason to evict you. S/he may be able to use the ‘section 21’ or ‘no fault’ procedure.
If your landlord uses the ‘section 21’ procedure, they must serve you with a ‘section 21 notice’ which must:
- be in writing
- be at least 2 months long (or the amount of time between rent payments, whichever is longer).
Your landlord can give you a section 21 notice at any time before the end of the fixed term but it can’t end until the end of the fixed term. If the notice is served before the end of a fixed term, the period of the notice only has to be 2 calendar months, and doesn’t have to end on the last day of a rental period.
If your tenancy has been periodic from the start, and did not have an initial fixed term, the notice must also:
- end on the last day of a rental period
- state that it is by virtue of Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
Restrictions on using the ‘section 21’ procedure
- If your landlord is not registered, and has either not obtained the proper licence, or appointed an agent who is licensed, any section 21 notice they give you cannot be used to evict you. If you receive a section 21 notice you should check the Rent Smart Wales public register to see if your landlord or agent is registered and complied with the licensing rules. If they have not then the notice will not be valid.
- If your landlord has not protected your deposit within a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme and provided you with certain prescribed information within 30 days then they cannot evict you using the section 21 procedure.
- If your landlord or agent has charged a banned letting fee and has not repaid it to you, or has failed to return a holding fee, then they can’t serve a section 21 notice on you.
If you have received a section 21 notice but don’t think your landlord has protected your deposit, provided you with the prescribed information, is properly registered or licensed, or has charged you a banned letting fee then seek advice.
For a quick reference, have a look at our fact sheet ‘Is your section 21 notice valid?’
Tenants with periodic tenancies : fault grounds
If your landlord is relying on a reason, or ‘ground’ to evict you (such as rent arrears), the length of time on the notice depends on which ground your landlord is using. It can be either 14 days or 2 months, depending on the reason.
How long is the notice valid for?
If the landlord is using a ground, the notice is valid for 1 year. If court action is not started within this time the landlord has to serve a new notice.
If the landlord is using the ‘section 21’ procedure, the notice will be valid indefinitely. The only exception would be if your landlord does something to suggest that a new tenancy has been started – you might be able to argue that this is the case if s/he has given you a new tenancy agreement, or increased the rent.
What grounds can the landlord use in the notice?
Remember: Landlords of assured shorthold tenants don’t always need to prove grounds for eviction. This will be the case if the tenancy is periodic, or the notice ends at the end of the fixed term.
If a ground is needed, the most common grounds are because:
- you have rent arrears
- you are constantly or regularly late with the rent
- you have broken the terms of your tenancy, for example, by subletting when you are not allowed to
- you have allowed the condition of the property or furniture provided to get worse
- you have caused nuisance or annoyance
- you landlord’s mortgage lender is repossessing the property.
The grounds for possession are the same as those used for assured tenants.
Step 2 : Possession Order
Once a valid notice has ended your landlord can apply to the county court for a possession order.
What the court has to consider depends on the type of tenancy you have and the procedure that your landlord has used:
If your landlord is evicting you by using the ‘section 21 procedure’ the court has no choice but to make a possession order if your landlord has followed the procedure correctly. In most cases your landlord can use an ‘Accelerated Possession Procedure’ which means that a possession order can be made without a court hearing. The court will have to consider all of the paperwork and be satisfied that your landlord has done everything correctly.
The possession order gives the date you have to give up your accommodation. The date is normally within 14 days of the court making the order.
There are exceptions which mean that your landlord cannot use the ‘section 21 procedure’. Contact an adviser immediately if any of the following situations apply to you, and make sure you complete and return the Defence form (N11B Wales) you received from the court:
- Your landlord has not given you correct notice
- You think you have a different type of tenancy (ie you are not an assured shorthold tenant)
- Your landlord is required by law to protect your deposit in a deposit protection scheme but has failed to do so
- Your landlord and/or agent is not registered and/or licensed with Rent Smart Wales
- You live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO) that the law says requires a license (this will be the case if the property is at least three storeys high and contains five or more people) but your landlord has failed to get one.
You may be able to ask the court for more time before the possession order takes effect. This can only be done for up to six weeks and only if you are suffering exceptional hardship. To do this you must fill in and return the Defence form (N11B Wales), explaining why you need more time.
Fixed term tenants
If you are being evicted within the fixed term your landlord will have to provide evidence to the court of the reason you are being evicted. Depending on the reason your landlord is using, the court will either:
- have to make a possession order
- have to decide whether it is reasonable to make a possession order.
If you have over eight weeks rent arrears, have been convicted of a serious criminal offence in another court, or have breached an anti-social behaviour or criminal behaviour order, or if the property is being repossessed by your landlord’s mortgage lender it is likely that the court will have no choice but make a possession order. In other cases the court will probably only make a possession order if it is reasonable to do so. In deciding whether it is reasonable for a possession order to be made the court can take your circumstances (such as your health and income) into account.
If you are being evicted after the fixed term ends the situation is the same as for periodic tenants.
Click here for advice on what to expect at court.
Step 3 : Bailiff
If you still have not left the property after the date in the possession order your landlord can ask the bailiffs to evict you.
If your landlord tries to evict you without getting a court order or without a court bailiff they are breaking the law. There might be action you can take to stop your landlord from doing this. See our pages on harassment and illegal eviction.
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.