AA Legal Documents

Seeking possession of property

Contents

The following provides a summary of the grounds for obtaining possession of a property let using an assured or shorthold tenancy agreement.

During the fixed term of an assured or shorthold tenancy, you can only seek possession on certain of the defined grounds for possession and if the tenancy agreement specifically states that it can be ended on any of these grounds.

When the fixed term of an assured tenancy ends, possession can be sought on any of the grounds.

When the fixed term of a shorthold tenancy ends, you have an automatic right to possession and therefore do not have to give any grounds for possession.

Difference between mandatory and discretionary grounds

The grounds for obtaining possession are divided between mandatory grounds, on which the court must grant a possession order requiring the tenant to vacate the property (usually within 14 days), and discretionary grounds, where the court may grant a possession order if it is reasonable to do so depending on the facts.

If discretionary grounds are used, a court can also decide to allow the tenant to remain in the property provided that they meet certain conditions, such as paying the rent by instalments.

This is called a suspended possession order and you cannot evict the tenant(s) unless they breach the terms of the court order.

Summary of the grounds listed in the Housing Act 1988.

Mandatory grounds for possession requiring prior notice

The landlord must have notified the tenant in writing before the tenancy started that he or she might seek possession on these grounds.

Ground 1: The landlord requires possession in order that he/she may live in the property.

This ground can be used so long as the landlord has done the following:

  • Given written notice to the tenant on or before the beginning of the tenancy that possession might be recovered on this ground (the court may dispense with this requirement if it believes that it is just and equitable to do so)
  • At some time before the beginning of the tenancy, the landlord or, in the case of joint landlords at least one of them, occupied the property as his/her only or principal home
Ground 2: The property is subject to a mortgage granted before the beginning of the tenancy and the lender is seeking possession of it

This ground can be used so long as the following is true:

  • The lender requires, and is entitled to, possession of the property
  • Either notice was given to the tenant as mentioned in Ground 1 above or the court is satisfied that it is just and equitable to dispense with the requirement to give notice
Ground 3: The property is occupied as a holiday let.

This ground can be used so long as:

  • The tenancy is a fixed-term tenancy for a term of no more than eight months; and
  • On or before the beginning of the tenancy the landlord gave written notice to the tenant that possession might be recovered on this ground
  • At some time within twelve months from the beginning of the tenancy, the property was occupied under a right to occupy it for a holiday
Ground 4: The property has been let to students by an educational institution, such as a university

This ground can be used so long as:

  • The tenancy is a fixed-term tenancy for a term of no more than twelve months; and
  • On or before the beginning of the tenancy the landlord gave written notice to the tenant that possession might be recovered on this ground; and
  • At some time within twelve months from the beginning of the tenancy, the property was let to students by an educational institution.
Ground 5: The property is used by a minister of religion as a residence from which to perform the duties of his/her office

This ground can be used so long as:

  • On or before the beginning of the tenancy the landlord gave written notice to the tenant that possession might be recovered on this ground
  • The court is satisfied that the property is required for occupation by a minister of religion as such a residence
Mandatory grounds which do not require prior notice

Ground 6: The landlord intends to demolish or reconstruct the whole, or a substantial part of, the property or to carry out substantial works on it or any part of it

This ground can be used if the works cannot be carried out if the tenant remains in the property. The landlord must pay the tenants reasonable removal expenses if the possession is granted under this ground.

Ground 7: The previous tenant has died and the new tenant is not entitled to succeed him or her

This ground can be used so long as:

  • The tenancy is a periodic tenancy (including a statutory periodic tenancy) which has passed under a Will or intestacy of the former tenant
  • The proceedings for the recovery of possession start not later than twelve months after the death of the former tenant or, if the court directs, twelve months after the date on which, in the opinion of the court, the landlord became aware of the former tenant's death.

Ground 7A: Antisocial behaviour

A court must grant an order for possession if the tenant, or someone living in or visiting the property, has:

  • been convicted of a serious offence after 20 October 2014;
  • breached an injunction under section 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014;
  • been convicted of breaching an order under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014; or
  • been convicted of an offence involving breaching an abatement notice or a court order to stop committing a statutory nuisance under section 80(4) or 82(8) Environmental Protection Act. The offence must be committed after 20 October 2014.

In addition, their conduct must have taken place:

  • in or near the property;
  • against or affecting someone with a right to live in or near the property; or
  • against the landlord or someone employed to manage the property.

The notice must be served within 12 months of the conviction.

Alternatively, the court must grant an order for possession if the property has been subject to a closure order, or access to it has been banned because of a closure order or notice under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The notice must be served within 3 months of the day of the closure order.

Ground 8: Rent arrears

Both at the date of the service of a notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (a notice seeking possession) and at the date of the hearing:

  • If rent is payable weekly or fortnightly, at least eight weeks' rent is unpaid
  • If rent is payable monthly, at least two months' rent is unpaid
  • If rent is payable quarterly, at least one quarter's rent is more than three months in arrears
  • If rent is payable yearly, at least three months' rent is more than three months in arrears
For the purpose of this ground, "rent" means rent lawfully due from the tenant.

Discretionary grounds for possession

Ground 9: Suitable alternative accommodation is available for the tenant or will be available for him or her when the order for possession takes effect.

Ground 10: Rent arrears

Rent is lawfully due from the tenant and:

  • Is unpaid on the date on which the proceedings for possession began
  • Was owed at the date notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (a notice seeking possession) was served
Ground 11: Rent is persistently paid late

The tenant has persistently delayed paying the rent. There does not need to be any rent arrears to rely on this ground.

Ground 12: Breaches of the terms of the tenancy agreement

The tenant has breached or not performed one or more of the terms of the tenancy agreement (other than payment of rent).

Ground 13: Disrepair to the property

The condition of the property or any of its common parts has deteriorated owing to acts by, or the neglect of, the tenant or any other person living in the property. If the deterioration has been caused by a third party living in the property and the tenant has not taken reasonable steps to have the other person removed then a possession may be made.

Ground 14A: Domestic violence

This applies to a landlord who is a Housing Association/Trust and not a private landlord.

Ground 14: The tenant or a person residing in or visiting the dwelling-house:

  • Has been guilty of conduct causing, or likely to cause, a nuisance or annoyance to a person residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality
  • Has been convicted of using the property or allowing it to be used for immoral or illegal purposes, or has been convicted of an arrestable offence committed in, or in the locality of, the property
Ground 15: Disrepair to the furniture

The condition of any furniture provided for use under the tenancy has, in the opinion of the court, deteriorated owing to ill-treatment by the tenant or by a third party living in the property with the tenant and the tenant has not taken reasonable steps for the removal of any third party causing the damage.

Ground 16: Employees

The property was let to the tenant as a result of his or her employment by the current or previous landlord and the tenant has ceased to be employed.

Ground 17: The landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by:

  • The tenant
  • A person acting at the tenant's instigation
For grounds 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 16 the landlord must give two months' notice.

For grounds 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14A, 15 and 17 the landlord must give two weeks' notice.