Why (or when) would someone need this service?
A landlord will require this service, if they wish to obtain repossession of their rental property which has been let out to tenants under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.
How does the process work/what are the steps involved?
Subject to certain requirements, a landlord is entitled to seek repossession of their property at the conclusion of the fixed term letting period. Tenancies are usually let on either a six month or twelve month contract.
The landlord does not need to seek to rely upon any particular reason (or breach of tenancy) in order to seek possession of the property. Simply that the landlord wants possession of his property back is sufficient.
The first step to obtaining possession of the property is for the landlord to serve notice of his intention to seek possession. This is done by serving what is known as a Section 21 Notice (pursuant to Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988). At least two months clear notice must be provided to the tenant following service of the Section 21 Notice.
There are certain formalities which must be strictly adhered to when preparing and serving the Section 21 Notice. It is quite easy for the notice to be completed inaccurately and if this occurs it would render the notice invalid. For instance, the date by when possession is requested must be carefully considered and accurately recorded within the Notice. We are happy to prepare and serve the Section 21 Notice on the tenant on behalf of the landlord if required.
If a tenant does not vacate after the expiry of the Section 21 Notice, the landlord is entitled to commence residential possession proceedings at court.
Please note, that if the landlord has been in receipt of a deposit payment from the tenant, the Section 21 Notice will only be valid and enforceable if the landlord had registered the deposit with an authorised scheme prior to serving the Notice. In addition to registering the deposit, the landlord should also have provided the tenant with the relevant scheme’s terms and conditions and any prescribed information as required.
Once court proceedings are issued the court will consider the paperwork filed and if it is satisfactory it will usually order that repossession be granted to the landlord without the need for the parties attending court for a hearing. Occasionally however the court will list a hearing if it wishes to ask the parties questions concerning the tenancy.
Once an order for possession is provided by the court, the tenant is usually granted a period of 14 days in which to vacate the property. If the tenant does not vacate within this time period, the landlord can apply to the court again to seek the assistance of a court bailiff to evict the tenant.
If the landlord is seeking possession of the property following service of a Section 21 Notice, the most that the landlord will achieve will be to obtain an order from the court for possession as well as payment of a small amount of fixed costs. The landlord will not be entitled to obtain any other order from the court such as for payment of arrears of rent that are owing. It is possible for a landlord to obtain an order for possession and an order that the tenant pay the rent owing. This is set out in our Landlord repossession and payment of arrears of rent article.
Restrictions on serving a S.21 Notice
There are several restrictions that prevent a Landlord from being able to serve a valid S.21 Notice . These restrictions are:
- The fixed term tenancy is less than 4 months old
- The statutory requirements for the tenancy deposit (assuming a deposit has been paid) have not been followed. See above summary.
- The Landlord has not provided the tenant with a copy of the current gas certificate or energy performance certificate.
- The property is a House of Multiple Occupation and the Landlord has not obtained the required License for this.
- Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms have not been fitted in each storey of the property.
- A local authority has served an improvement notice on the property in the last 6 months which has not been dealt with.
- The tenant has complained about the condition of the property or common parts and the landlord has not provided an adequate response to that complaint.
How long is the legal process for landlord repossessions?
An order for possession can usually be obtained from the court within eight to ten weeks after paperwork is filed at the court.
Is it expensive? What are the likely costs?
The cost will usually be between £600 to £825 plus VAT after the S.21 Notice has been served. There will also be a court fee payable on issue of proceedings, this is currently in the sum of £355. After an order for possession is granted the Landlord will be entitled to recover the court fee paid and a set amount of the legal fees incurred.
If we are instructed to draft and serve the S.21 Notice on your behalf we will provide you with a cost estimate for that stage of work.
What are the things that people should consider before calling?
If a deposit has been taken by a landlord, all formalities concerning the registering of a deposit must have been complied with prior to serving a Section 21 Notice (see above for outline discussion).
It would be useful if you could have to hand, a copy of the tenancy agreement in force as well as a copy of any Section 21 Notice that has already been served when you first contact us.
In addition to the above and following recent changes to the Landlord repossession process you should also have the following documents ready to provide to your lawyer:
1. Energy Performance Certificate;
2. The Gas Safe Certificate;
3. The "How to rent checklist" that was served on the tenant; and
4. Your HMO licence (if relevant)
Why are Grant Saw the best people for the job?
We have been successfully providing assistance to landlords for many years in recovering possession of their properties.
This is a specialist area and there are many pitfalls. It is best practice to instruct solicitors who have expertise in this subject area, such as Grant Saw Solicitors. A technical error in procedure can lead to months of delay and potentially, wasted costs to landlords.