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?
Your landlord might not always need to state a ground (or reason) in the notice. 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.
If you are being evicted for rent arrears you may eligible for the ‘Breathing space’ scheme which gives you time to get some specialist debt advice. To find out more about the scheme and how to apply, click here.