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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.

If you are an assured shorthold tenant being evicted from a property in England the law is different and you should contact Shelter.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Emergency laws mean that most assured shorthold tenants who get an eviction notice are entitled to:

  • 3 months notice if it was given between 26 March 2020 and 23 July 2020
  • 6 months notice if it was given between 24 July 2020 and 30 September 2020 (unless the landlord is giving the notice on the grounds of anti-social behaviour in which case it is 3 months).

If you have received a section 21 or a section 8 notice from your landlord you should stay in your home. Evictions take time and you don’t have to leave at the end of your notice under current law.

All court proceedings for eviction are on hold until the 23 August 2020.

  • If your landlord has already applied to the court then your case will be put off until after the 23 August 2020
  • If your landlord wants to continue the case to evict you after the 23 August 2020 they will need to send a notice to you and to the court. They must give information in the notice about the impact coronavirus has had on you and your family
  • You will be contacted by the court if this happens and you will be told if there is to be a court hearing. The hearing might be dealt with by video or audio link
  • You should still pay your rent during any notice period or while you are waiting for a court hearing.

If you are a lodger who lives with your landlord, these rules don’t apply.

See Gov.Wales for the current Welsh Government advice.

See Public Health Wales for up to date health advice.

The 3 steps to eviction

To lawfully evict an assured shorthold tenant, your landlord must 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 tenancy for a fixed period (eg: 12 months) your landlord must have a reason (or ‘ground’) to evict you before that period ends (see below). There must also be a term in your tenancy allowing the tenancy to end early.

If there is a reason to evict you the landlord must provide a notice to you in writing. 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
If you have a periodic tenancy (for example, it runs month to month) your landlord does not always need a reason to evict you. (Once a fixed term tenancy comes to an end it will automatically change to a periodic tenancy unless you sign a new agreement for another fixed period).

A landlord is able to use the ‘section 21’ or ‘no fault’ procedure to evict you if you are a periodic assured shorthold tenant.

To use the ‘section 21’ procedure, your landlord 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, the notice will not be valid.
  • If your landlord has not protected your deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme and given you 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, they cannot 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 get 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.

Periodic tenants
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
  • Your landlord or agent has charged you a banned letting fee and not returned it
  • 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 a longer possession order. The maximum that can be given to you is six weeks and this will only be granted if the court believe you would suffer exceptional hardship if it was not given. To ask for a longer order 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 give evidence to the court of the reason you are being evicted.

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 to  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 08000 495 495.

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This page was last updated on: July 27, 2020

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.

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