Eviction of assured shorthold tenants

The majority of private rented tenants are assured shorthold tenants. Landlords must follow certain rules and procedures to evict assured shorthold tenants but don’t always need to prove grounds to do so.

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 :

What notice am I entitled to?

The first step in eviction is for your landlord to give you a written notice. The type of notice you should be given depends on whether you are a periodic, statutory periodic or a fixed term tenant:

Fixed term tenants

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 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 two months, depending on the reason your landlord is using.

Alternatively, the landlord can choose to serve you with a ‘section 21 notice’ (2 months’ notice), and apply to court to enforce his/her automatic right to possession. This notice can operate a break clause to bring the tenancy to an end early. Or, the landlord can give you the notice, which will expire on the last day of the fixed term, at any time during the fixed term, even the first day.

Important

  • If your landlord or agent is not registered or properly licensed with Rent Smart Wales, any section 21 notice that they give you on or after the 23rd November 2016 to end your tenancy cannot be used to evict you. If you receive a section 21 notice you should check the public register to see if your landlord or agent is registered or licensed. If they are not then the notice will not be valid
  • the section 21 procedure cannot be used by landlords if they have not protected your deposit within a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme and provided you with certain prescribed information within 30 days. If you have received a section 21 notice but don’t think your landlord has protected your deposit, provided you with the prescribed information, or is properly registered or licensed, seek advice.

Periodic tenants

Once a fixed term tenancy comes to an end it will automatically become a statutory periodic tenancy if your landlord doesn’t ask 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 a special procedure for ending an assured shorthold tenancy, often called the ‘section 21’ procedure. This allows landlords to end an assured shorthold tenancy without a reason.

The rules on how much notice you are entitled to will depend on which procedure your landlord follows:

If your landlord is using a ground (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 two months, depending on the reason.

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 two months long (or the amount of time between rent payments, whichever is longer).

Your landlord can give you a notice like this at any time before the end of the fixed term but it cannot expire 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 two 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.

Important

  • If your landlord or agent is not registered or properly licensed with Rent Smart Wales, any section 21 notice that they give you on or after the 23rd November 2016 to end your tenancy cannot be used to evict you. If you receive a section 21 notice you should check the public register to see if your landlord or agent is registered or licensed. If they are not then the notice will not be valid
  • the section 21 procedure cannot be used by landlords if they have not protected your deposit within a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme and provided you with certain prescribed information within 30 days. If you have received a section 21 notice but don’t think your landlord has protected your deposit, provided you with the prescribed information, or is properly registered or licensed, seek advice.

For a quick reference, have a look at our fact sheet ‘Is your section 21 notice valid?’

How long is the notice valid for?

If the landlord is using a ground, the notices remain valid for one year. This means that your landlord can start court action to evict you at any time until exactly 12 months after the date the notice expires. 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.

What will the court consider when deciding whether to make 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:

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
  • 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.

What happens after the court order?

If you still have not left the property after a court order takes effect your landlord can ask the bailiffs to evict you.

Could the eviction be illegal?

If your landlord tries to evict you without getting a court order 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.

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This page was last updated on: June 25, 2018

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.