New Toolkit for Residential Possession Proceedings

March 2015

One of the attractive features of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, from a Landlord’s point of view, is the ease with which possession of the property can be obtained. The “no fault” or “accelerated” possession procedure set out in Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 gives Landlords an absolute right, subject to following certain procedural steps, to recover possession once the fixed term of a Tenancy has expired.

When is the Landlord entitled to Possession?

Once the fixed term of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy has come to an end, the Landlord can require the Tenant to vacate. The Landlord must follow the procedure set out in the Housing Act.

Step 1: Section 21 Notice

The Landlord must first serve a Notice Seeking Possession (known as a Section 21 Notice), giving the Tenant notice to leave the Property. A Landlord is not permitted to serve such a Notice if the Tenant’s deposit has not been protected in an official Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Any deposit that has not been protected should be placed in a Scheme before the Section 21 Notice is served or should be returned to the Tenant.

Step 2: Possession Order

In most cases, service of a Section 21 Notice is all that is required. This will prompt the Tenant to vacate the Property at the required time. However, if the Tenant does not leave, the next step is for the Landlord to seek a Possession Order from the Court.

This is often a paper exercise, with the parties not being required to attend Court. If there are any complicating factors, or if the Tenant wishes to argue that the Landlord is not entitled to possession, there may be a hearing.

Step 3: Enforcement

If a Possession Order is made and the Tenant still refuses to leave the Property, the Landlord can ask the Court to authorise the involvement of bailiffs.

New Guidance Notes and Template Documents

Our new Possession Proceedings folder contains Guidance Notes and template Forms, Notices and Letters to help Landlords recover possession of premises using the “no fault” procedure. The Guidance Notes take Landlords through each stage of the procedure, signposting the documents the Landlord will need for each step.

All change?

Some changes to the accelerated possession procedure are in the offing, The Deregulation Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, contains provisions that would:

• Restrict Landlords’ ability to serve a Section 21 Notice where the Tenant has made a valid complaint about the condition of the Property. The aim is to prevent “retaliatory eviction”.

• Require Section 21 Notices to be in a prescribed form. Currently there is no set format.

We are monitoring the progress of the Bill and will update any affected documents as and when the legal changes take effect.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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