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Ending a Tenancy: When it's time to say Goodbye

It’s inevitable that all tenancies must come to an end.

In many cases, the tenant will call time – and this could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe they’re in a student home and their studies have ended; sometimes the tenant needed somewhere temporary to live whilst their own home was being built or renovated; or perhaps it is simply time to move on.

Once the initial tenancy period (usually six or 12 months) has finished, then the tenancy agreement usually moves onto a rolling tenancy agreement, and then the tenant only needs to give one month’s notice that they intend to move.

That’s why the private rented sector is often a great place for tenants who value flexibility and who like the ability to move into a new home (almost) whenever they choose.

However, even though most tenancies are ended by the tenant, there are times when a landlord is the one who instigates a possession order.  But unlike the tenant, who only needs to give one month, for landlords it can take a little longer to end a tenancy, depending on the circumstances.

In our experience, landlords seek possession of the property for two principal reasons:

  1. They want, or need the property back

  2. The tenant is not fulfilling their obligations

When the landlord needs the property back

Sometimes a homeowner chooses to rent out a property because they simply don’t need it for a while.

It could be because they have a temporary work contract which may see them living abroad for several months or years. Maybe they have inherited the property from an elderly relative, and plan to allow their own children to occupy the home at some point in the future. Or it could simply be that they have been waiting for the right time to sell – and they opted to rent it out whilst they wait.

If it’s an investment property to help fund a retirement, then the landlord could decide that now is the time to sell all or part of the portfolio.

Whatever the reason, there are times when a landlord needs his home back, and it can be no reflection on the tenant.

When the tenant is not fulfilling their obligations

Sadly, there are some tenants who let themselves down.

Even with glowing references, there are times when a tenant fails to pay their rent.  Maybe it’s a relationship breakdown or a change in their job circumstances - a landlord can be sympathetic, but they still need the rent to be paid.

However, once an issue is identified, a landlord needs to be able to regain possession of the property before the problem gets worse.

How to evict

Landlords who need to evict their tenant have two routes – either issuing a Section 8, or a Section 21 Notice.

Section 8 Notices can be used to evict a tenant because they have breached the tenancy. Often it is unpaid rent, but it can also be another breach such as antisocial behaviour or damage to the property.  A Section 8 Notice can be used at any time during the tenancy, however in the case of arrears, the rent must be one month plus one day late.

If you choose to use this type of eviction, then there are a number of pieces of evidence you need to provide.  You must prove you have been in contact with the tenant about the issue, and you need to produce an accurate and up to date rent statement.

Unfortunately, because this type of notice must be heard in Court, then there can be some delays processing this type of eviction notice - this is because the tenant has the right to defend their position. 

For this reason, many landlords choose to serve a Section 21 Notice alongside a Section 8 Notice.

A Section 21 Notice is known as a ‘no-fault’ eviction because the landlord doesn’t need to provide a reason, nor pass any blame onto the tenant.

As detailed above, there are many legitimate reasons why a landlord needs their property back, and the Section 21 process is usually a very efficient way to regain possession. 

Provided the fixed tenancy period has ended, the landlord only needs to give two months’ notice that they wish to regain possession of the property. This should allow the tenant enough time to find somewhere new to live.

The landlord can’t serve this type of notice during the first four months of a six months tenancy. (Or in the case of a 12-month tenancy then he or she must wait until ten months have passed). That’s because a landlord can ask for the property back on the day the tenancy expires – but they still need to give two months’ notice to the tenant. 

Because the landlord doesn’t need to give any reason for serving this type of eviction notice, there is usually no need for the case to be heard in court. This means that provided the landlord has served the correct paperwork, had conducted the tenancy fairly – including providing the prescribed information at the start of the tenancy, then there should be no reason why possession shouldn’t be granted.

This is why landlords sometimes use this process when a tenant has defaulted on their tenancy agreement, as it can often be a swifter, cheaper route than serving a Section 8 Notice.

In all cases, haart recommends landlords conduct an in-depth reference before granting a new tenancy. Provided a tenant has successfully passed the reference, then a variety of rent guarantee solutions are available, which can be accessed used when the landlord does need the property back if the tenant is in breach of the agreement.