How to Obtain Possession of the Property


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It can be an offence to evict someone from a residential property without a court order.  The usual process for a landlord to remove a tenant from a property is to serve a notice and should the tenant not vacate the property once the notice has expired to then obtain a possession order from the court.

Section 8 and section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 provide two sets of procedures for landlords to obtain possession of the property.

Stage 1: Notice

Section 8 Notice:

  • This is often referred to as a ‘fault notice’
  • A section 8 notice is often used when the tenant is in breach of the tenancy agreement
  • The most common breach is a failure to pay rent
  • As well as rent arrears, a section notice can also be used where the following has occurred;
    •        The tenant is a nuisance to neighbours or other tenants
    •        The tenant is in breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement
    •        The tenant has damaged the property
  • Where the tenant is in rent arrears, only 2 weeks’ notice of possession must be given
  • Landlords should note that if a local authority find out about the arrears, they may not be able to re-house them

Section 21 Notice:

  • This is often referred to as a ‘no-fault notice’
  • A tenant does not need to be in breach of the tenancy agreement to serve a section 21 notice.
  • In order for the notice to be valid, you must ensure that you have followed all of the correct procedures at the outset of the tenancy (see Checklist for Landlords).  Please note that from 1 October 2018, this applies to all tenancy agreements even if commenced before 1 October 2015
  • At least 2 months’ notice of possession must be given
  • A prescribed form must be used
  • You cannot serve a section 21 notice until at least 4 months into the tenancy and it cannot be served if the tenant has made a complaint about disrepair of the property

Stage 2: Court Proceedings

If the tenant remains in possession of the property after the expiry of the notice then court proceedings must be issued.

Accelerated proceedings:

  • As it says on the tin, this is a faster process
  • It can be used after a section 21 notice has been served
  • A possession order may be granted without having a hearing
  • Separate court proceedings have to be issued to recover any rent arrears. At Sintons, our skilled debt recovery department will be able to work with you in order to achieve prompt and cost effective results

Standard proceedings:

  • A claim is issued at the court
  • A hearing date will be listed usually between 1 to 2 months after the date of issue of the claim form
  • At the hearing, a possession order should be made if the tenant has not filed a defence or if the defence filed has no genuine dispute. If a genuine defence is filed by the tenant then a second hearing may be listed with further directions to be followed
  • The landlord can seek an order that the tenant pays the rent arrears and/or that the deposit be used to pay the rent arrears

After a possession order has been made, the tenant usually has 14 days to vacate the property, except in cases of exceptional hardship.

At Sintons, we will issue the claim and represent you at the first hearing to obtain a possession order and charge a fixed fee. Please contact the Dispute Resolution team for details.

Stage 3: Warrant for Possession

If the tenant still remains in possession of the property, then the landlord must apply for a warrant for possession and will need to arrange for a locksmith to meet with the bailiff to change the locks.

At Sintons, we will take care of issuing the warrant and making the arrangements for the eviction and charge a fixed fee.  Please contact the Dispute Resolution team for details.

For more information about our expertise and how we could help you, please contact us.