Across the UK there are millions of people in private rented accommodation, and millions more in social housing. Despite this, there is still a great deal of confusion around the rules and regulations for both tenants and landlords – especially when it comes to eviction. We’ve put together this guide to simplify things for everyone, and to make sure everyone knows their legal eviction rights.
- Types of Tenancies in the UK
- Rights for Excluded Occupiers
- Rights for Assured Shorthold Tenants
- Landlords: Legal Ways to Evict
- Social Housing Evictions
- Break Clauses
- Coronavirus and Eviction
- Useful Resources
There are a few types of tenancy agreements in the UK and they all come with slightly different rules. Depending which category you fall under will affect what your eviction rights are.
assured shorthold tenancies (AST)
Most new tenancies fall into this category, and they’re the most common type of tenancy around. Generally, if you rent from a private landlord and there are no other special conditions, then you’ll have an AST.
Your tenancy counts as AST if:
- The tenancy was started after 15th January 1989
- The property you rent is private and it’s your main accommodation
- Your landlord does not live in your property
This type of tenancy is where a tenant shares accommodation with their landlord, such as with a lodger or subtenant. In these cases you’re classed as an excluded occupier. Unfortunately, it limits your tenant and eviction rights.
assured and regulated tenancies
These types of tenancies are much less common, although they generally offer fairer rules and are more secure for tenants.
Assured tenancies started between 15th January 1989 and 27th February 1997. They offer a higher level of security and they operate indefinitely, as tenants have the right to remain in the property for life as long as they continue to pay rent and adhere to the tenancy agreement.
Regulated tenancies are mostly tenancies which started prior to 15th January 1989 renewed with the same landlord. These tenants have much stronger eviction rights and can usually only be evicted if they break the agreement.
If you’re unsure which tenancy category you fall into, use Shelter’s checker to find out.
The two main types of excluded occupiers are lodgers and subtenants. Unfortunately, excluded occupiers have fewer tenant rights than those with other types of tenancy agreements. Although in some cases you may have additional rights or agreements that have been stipulated in a contract between you and your landlord.
fixed-term or periodic?
With the majority of renting agreements you’ll either have a fixed term or a periodic contract. Fixed-term agreements mean committing for a particular length of time, 6 months for example. Once this period comes to an end, you can either choose to start another fixed term contract or switch to a periodic contract.
With fixed-term, you can only be evicted if:
- That term has come to an end
- There’s a break clause in your contract, that allows the agreement to end early.
You don’t legally have the right to rent in the UK. Although if this is the case your landlord still needs to give you at least 28 days notice.
With periodic agreements you have to be given a notice period before eviction. In some cases, your agreement may already set out the notice period required. If it doesn’t, it will depend on whether you share living space with your landlord. If you do, you’re likely to have an excluded licence, which basically entitles you to the right for ‘reasonable notice’. There are no official guidelines on what counts as reasonable but it generally depends on how long you’ve lived there and how frequently your rent periods are. For example, if you pay rent monthly, then usually this entitles you to a month’s notice.
With both a fixed-term and a periodic tenancy, a landlord cannot evict without going to court and gaining a possession order for the property. If the correct procedure has been followed, then the court has to grant an order to evict. Although tenants can apply for a delay of up to 6 weeks if they can show they’ll face exceptional hardship in these circumstances.
If you have a fixed-term tenancy, then your landlord must have a valid reason to evict you if they wish to do so before that period comes to an end.
Examples of valid reasons include:
- Tenants having rent arrears
- Rent payments are regularly late
- The tenant has caused damage to the property beyond the usual wear and tear
- Specific terms of the tenancy have been broken
In these cases a landlord will need to serve tenants with a section 8 notice, outlining the reason they’re applying for a possession order. A possession order will not be granted unless the landlord’s reason is deemed valid. However, a landlord can give two months’ notice without a reason, although this notice period can’t end before the end of the fixed-term contract.
It’s much easier for a landlord to evict tenants with a periodic tenancy, or when the fixed-term has come to an end. In these situations landlords don’t need to give a reason for eviction. Although they must be able to prove that the tenancy is assured shorthold, and that a section 21 has been served.
At least 2 months notice should be given, with the notice ending on the last day of a rental period – the day before rent is due. If, as a tenant, you haven’t left the property by the end of the notice period then the landlord can apply for a court order to evict you.
Remember, as a tenant you must continue to keep paying your rent throughout the eviction process. You still have the same responsibilities as usual.
Landlords must follow official procedures to evict tenants, and in most cases need to have justifiable grounds to do so. If you’re a landlord and you do not follow the correct protocol then you can be subject to a fine or prosecution.
There are two ways that a landlord can evict tenants with ASTs: a section 8 or section 21 notice. Your landlord can also decide to use both types of eviction at the same time if they wish.
Section 21 Notice
With a Section 21 notice, landlords don’t need to give a reason for eviction. A Section 21 can be used after a fixed-term tenancy ends, or during a periodic tenancy with no set end date.
A Section 21 notice gives your tenants at least 2 months notice to leave. Although, in England you may need to give longer if your tenants have a contractual periodic tenancy. This is where the tenants were on a fixed-term contract which included a clause to continue as a periodic tenancy afterwards. In this case, the notice period will either have to be 2 months, or the length of the rental period. Whichever is longer.
As a landlord, remember to keep proof that you gave notice by filling in a certification of notice (N215). If your tenants have not left by the specified date, then you can use this to apply for an accelerated possession order.
Section 8 Notice
Usually used by a private landlord who wants to evict an assured tenant for legal reasons. This can include a variety of things, such as rent arrears or noise complaints. If you don’t give a suitable reason, your tenants may be able to stop the eviction.
In most cases, you can only be evicted from your council or housing association home if your landlord provides a legal reason to evict you. The two most common grounds for possession are rent arrears and antisocial behaviour. Inherited tenancies also face eviction. However, in this situation, if the eviction is being carried out by the council then they need to offer you a suitable tenancy alternative.
You need to be sent a notice seeking possession. This states the reasons they want to evict you, and when they can start court action. Following this, possession proceedings can start. Finally, if a judge agrees on your eviction, then bailiffs can evict you.
Check Shelter for guidance on how to prevent an eviction here.
Break clauses allow either the tenant or the landlord to end a fixed-term tenancy early. To be valid, they need to specify the length of notice required and state whether this clause can be exercised by the landlord, tenant, or both. If a break clause fails to specify who has the right to break the agreement, only the tenant can.
A ban on evictions runs to 20th September 2020. Although landlords can’t currently evict you, they can still give you notice of eviction. A notice period extension applies too, with a minimum of six months to 31st March 2021.
Once court hearings restart in late September, resolving serious cases involving antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse will take priority over others.
- Shelter’s Tenancy Rights Checker – find out what tenancy agreement you have, and what eviction rights this entitles you to.
- Getting Help With Rent – Shelter’s advice on how you can find help to pay rent
- Free Legal Aid – check if you can get legal assistance through gov.uk
- Citizens Advice – find out where you can get help if you’re facing an eviction, as well as steps to take to prevent it.
- Benefit Calculator – find out what help you could be entitled to.