Eviction of assured tenants
Most assured tenants can only be evicted in certain circumstances. This section explains when landlords have the right to evict assured tenants and the procedures that must be followed.
If you need further advice, call Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice helpline on 0345 075 5005. You could also email our housing advice team, or, if you prefer, visit advice near you to find a local Shelter Cymru advice surgery where you can talk to someone in person. In some areas you may also be able to speak to our Shelter Cymru Live advisers online, by live chat and by webcam.
Am I an assured tenant?
Most private tenants are assured shorthold tenants. You are only likely to be an assured tenant if:
- you moved in before February 1997 and did not receive a notice saying you are an assured shorthold tenant, or
- landlord informed you in writing that you are an assured tenant before your tenancy started.
The law provides most private tenants with rights. These depend on the type of living arrangement you have, the date you moved in and the agreement you have with your landlord.
If you are an assured tenant you have strong tenancy rights. You can only be evicted if your landlord can prove a reason (or ‘ground’) to the court. Depending on the ground your landlord uses the court will:
- either have no choice but to make a possession order or
- will only make a possession order if it is reasonable to do so.
What notice am I entitled to?
Your landlord has to give you a written notice which must comply with specific legal requirements. The notice must be in a special form. The notice must include the ground on which your landlord is seeking possession. It must also state the earliest date that court action can start.
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, but if you have been guilty of causing a nuisance, or have been convicted of certain offences, it might state that court proceedings for possession can be started immediately.
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 your landlord has to serve a new notice.
What reasons for eviction can be used?
The reasons (or ‘grounds’) that landlords can use to evict assured tenants are in two groups: ‘mandatory grounds’ and ‘discretionary grounds’.
If your landlord is using a mandatory ground the court has no choice but to make a possession order if it is satisfied that the ground is proved. Examples of mandatory grounds include:
- serious rent arrears : you pay rent weekly, and you have more than eight weeks’ rent arrears, or if you pay rent monthly, you have more than two months’ rent arrears
- serious anti-social behaviour : you (or people who live with you or visit you) have been convicted of a serious criminal offence, breached an anti-social behaviour injunction or criminal behaviour order or breached an order in respect of noise nuisance.
If your landlord is using a discretionary ground the court will only make a possession order if the ground is proven and it is reasonable to do so. Examples of discretionary grounds include:
- rent arrears or late payment of rent : you have some rent arrears or you are regularly late paying your rent
- breaking your tenancy agreement : you have broken a term of your tenancy agreement
- anti-social behaviour : you (or people who live with you or visit you) have caused a nuisance or annoyance in your home, or in the neighbourhood or used your home for illegal or immoral activities (eg drug dealing)
- condition of your home : you have allowed the condition of the property to deteriorate or have damaged your home or any furniture provided with it
- adapted property : your home was designed or adapted for a person with special needs, and the people in your household no longer need those special facilities.
When can the landlord apply for a court order?
Once you have been given a correct notice and this has ended your landlord can apply to the county court for a possession order.
You will be offered the opportunity to provide information to the court to help the judge decide whether to make a possession order. You should always try to attend the hearing. There might be a duty solicitor available to help you at court. If you think that you will not be able to attend, get advice quickly.
If your landlord is using a mandatory ground and the court agrees that the mandatory ground exists the court has no choice but to make a possession order. It might be possible to delay the possession order for up to six weeks if you are suffering great hardship.
If your landlord is using a discretionary ground the court will 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. The court might make a suspended possession order with conditions attached to it to give you a chance to keep your home by, for example, paying the rent arrears off in instalments.
Can I defend the claim for possession?
If you deny what the landlord says in the notice you received, or in the court papers – for example, about the amount of rent you owe – or if you think it would not be reasonable in all the circumstances for a possession order to be made, you may have grounds to defend the case, and you should get advice quickly. Call Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice helpline on 0345 075 5005.
What happens after the court order?
After a possession order takes effect if you have still not left the property 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.