Examples of grounds to evict tenants from rented properties

If you are a landlord then there may come a time when you will need to evict tenants. This could be for many reasons, not all of which are related to tenant behaviour.

If a tenant has an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) then the easiest way to regain possession is to give them notice to leave at least two months before their tenancy is due to end, or if they have a periodic tenancy (i.e. if they remain in occupation after the original term expires), to give them at least two month’s notice at any time. However, if your tenants are in the middle of an AST, then you will need to serve them with a legal notice setting out the grounds for recovering possession.

The Housing Act 1988, as amended by the Housing Act 1996, sets out mandatory and discretionary grounds upon which a landlord may apply to the courts for an order for possession relation to a rented property, the tenancy of which must have been entered into after 15 January 1989.

Possession of property will be ordered on the basis of one of the discretionary grounds, only if the court agrees that it is reasonable but a judge will usually give the tenant the opportunity to remedy any breach of the terms of the agreement within a reasonable period of time. These grounds include late payment of rent below the mandatory level where the tenant is behind on the rent or if the tenant has often been late paying rent, even though they may not be behind when proceedings began. Also, if the condition of a property or the furniture within it has deteriorated beyond normal ‘wear and tear’, then these are grounds for possession. The deterioration of furniture should have been caused by mistreatment by the tenant or another person the tenant has allowed into the property.

Other discretionary grounds for evicting tenants include anti-social behaviour of the tenant or any visitors or, for example, if the tenant has a conviction for making use of the property for illegal or immoral behaviour. If the tenancy was granted because the tenant was an employee and this is no longer the case, or if the tenant was granted the tenancy under false pretences, then these are other discretionary grounds for possession.

There are eight mandatory grounds for repossessing a property which means that, if the court is satisfied the landlord has proved the ground the court must give the landlord a possession order even if, for example, the tenant can pay the arrears.

The most commonly used mandatory ground is rent arrears. Where, at the time of serving notice and at the date of the court hearing the tenant is over a certain amount in arrears, e.g. 2 months if rent is payable monthly, 8 weeks if paid weekly, the landlord must be given a possession order.

Some of the mandatory grounds need to be notified to the tenant before the commencement of the tenancy. These include the fact that the landlord lived at the property themselves and requires it for their home at the end of the agreement, or where the property is mortgaged and the mortgage lender requires possession to realise their security. Similarly, where the property is owned by a higher education establishment and was let on a shorter than 12-month fixed term, i.e. student lets like halls of residence.

Additional less commonly used mandatory grounds apply on the death of the tenant and to properties let to ministers of religion and holiday lets or where the landlord needs possession to carry out substantial works to the building.

If you are a landlord, then before you begin any proceedings for evicting tenants it is important that you get legal advice so you know whether you have sufficient grounds for possession and that the correct notice is served.

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