Considerations for a Landlord Wishing to End an AST

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Neale Crump, Dispute Resolution Solicitor at Bright Solicitors

Most private renters have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST).

As many landlords are aware the Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force on 26th March 2020.

This measure was in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). It substantially affected the ability of landlords to recover possession of properties in England and Wales.

In addition, most proceedings for possession brought under CPR 55, and most proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession were stayed under CPR 55.29 until 20 September 2020.

Sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988  provide for two different procedures for the landlord to terminate an AST. A landlord will need to consider the circumstances and decide the best route to take.

A section 21 notice is sometimes called a ‘no fault’ notice because a landlord does not need to give a reason. A landlord can start court action after the notice period has ended. A landlord has 4 months to do this. If they don’t apply to court within this time the notice will expire and can’t be used and the notice will have to be served again.

A landlord might give both types of eviction notice at the same time. When the notice period ends a landlord can apply to court for an eviction order / claim for possession.

A landlord can only give a section 8 notice if they have a legal reason or ‘ground’. They must prove the ground at a court hearing. For example rent arrears or antisocial behaviour.

From 1 October 2021, all notice periods returned to the pre-pandemic position. This means the minimum period of notice which must be given under section 21 is two months and, where a section 8 notice is relied upon, the minimum notice period will depend on the ground(s) on which possession is sought.

The Deregulation Act 2015 (DA 2015) introduced changes to the way in which tenancies of properties in England may be brought to an end. From 1 October 2018, the DA 2015 changes apply to all ASTs of properties in England, whenever the AST was granted.

To obtain a court order for possession pursuant to S.21 you will need to be able to show the court you are a “compliant landlord” and at the outset of tenancy and have complied with various aspects at the time of the commencement of the tenancy.  

We all hope that the worst effects of the pandemic are now behind us and a degree of normality will return. In most cases, it would be hoped that landlords set up tenancies correctly and follow the correct procedure to end a tenancy. To this end, it is also hoped that tenants on receiving notice will leave the property in accordance with the notice, with the rent paid to date and without the landlord having to issue a claim for possession.  

If you require advice or you would like someone to take over handling the legal requirements of setting up or ending the tenancy please contact Bright Solicitors. Taking early legal advice will ensure the correct steps were taken when setting up a tenancy and any corrective steps being taken before legal proceedings are issued to obtain possession. This will reduce the risk of a landlord having a claim for possession dismissed and avoid incurring wasted costs.