As a landlord, you may occasionally find it necessary to recover possession of a property from your tenants,

however, it is commonly thought that this is only possible where the tenant stops paying rent. Landlords are

often unaware under what circumstances they can start proceedings to recover possession of their property

such as:

  • Where the landlord wants to live in the property themselves
  • Where the landlord wants to carry out works on the property
  • Where the tenant has allowed the property to deteriorate
  • Where the tenant has sublet the property without the landlord’s consent
  • Where the tenant has lied about their employment status

Most residential tenancies entered into on or after 15 January 1989 are assured or assured shortholdtenancies and are protected by the Housing Act 1988 as amended. Therefore, landlords must follow one of twoprocesses to obtain possession of a property depending on whether proceedings are started during or after thetenancy term.

During the original contractual term, you are able to obtain a possession order from the County Court by relyingon one of the following 17 grounds set out in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988.

Possession can be recovered on the following mandatory grounds. The court will order the tenant to vacate if the landlord can prove one of the grounds:

  • The landlord or their spouse has occupied the property as their only/principal home previously, and wants to return to live at the property as their only/principal home. The court will consider the hardship to the tenant or landlord when making an order for possession on this ground (Ground 1).
  • The property has previously been used as a holiday let within the last 12 months ending with the beginning of the tenancy, and is currently being let on a fixed term of up to 8 months and the landlord wishes to return the property’s use to a holiday let (Ground 3).
  • The landlord wishes to demolish or reconstruct the whole or a substantial part of the property or, carry out substantial works which cannot reasonably be carried out without the tenant giving up possession. The landlord will have to pay reasonable removal expenses (Ground 6).
  • There are substantial arrears of rent. If the rent is payable weekly/fortnightly, at least 8 weeks unpaid rent is required; if it is monthly, at least 2 months unpaid rent is required; if it is quarterly, at least 1 quarter’s unpaid rent is required; and if it is annually, at least 3 months unpaid rent is required (Ground 8).

Possession can be recovered on the following discretionary grounds. The court will use their discretion to consider the application where:

  • The landlord has offered suitable alternative accommodation to the tenant on the same basis. This may be appropriate where the landlord wishes to recover possession to remarket the property at a higher rental value however, the landlord must pay the tenants reasonable removal expenses (Ground 9).
  • The rent is in arrears but the landlord does not satisfy the requirements of mandatory ground 8. If the tenant has been offering the landlord rent and the landlord has refused it, the tenant will simply be ordered to pay the amount owed (Ground 10).
  • There is persistent delay in paying rent. No rent arrears are required to issue proceedings however, the court will consider factors outside of the tenant’s control when considering whether to make the order for possession (Ground 11).
  • There is a breach of the lease or tenancy agreement conditions for example, where the tenant is using the property as business premises (Ground 12).
  • There is deterioration of the property or common parts due to acts of waste by, or the neglect or default of any person residing in the property, not just the tenant (Ground 13).
  • The tenant’s conduct is causing/is likely to cause nuisance or annoyance or, the tenant is using/allowing the property to be used for illegal or immoral purposes. This covers domestic violence where one partner has left and is unlikely to return (Ground 14).
  • There is deterioration in the condition of the furniture owing to ill-treatment of any resident of the property (Ground 15).
  • The tenant made a false statement knowingly or recklessly by the tenant or a person acting at the tenant’s instigation for example, if the tenant falsely informs the landlord that they are employed and but for this statement, the landlord would not have agreed to the tenancy (Ground 17).

In order to rely on the above mentioned grounds, the landlord must serve notice in prescribed form seeking possession of the property on the tenant before they start court proceedings. The notice must specify the ground(s) relied upon, and give a full explanation of why each ground is relied upon. At the end of or after the tenancy term, you can evict a tenant without obtaining an order for possession from the County Court. Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 preserves your right as landlord to obtain possession of your property provided you serve at least 2 months written notice upon your tenant which can be served before the tenancy expires, to take effect on the date the tenancy expires. You must provide evidence to the court that the AST has come to an end and no further assured tenancy is for the time being in existence, other than an assured shorthold periodic tenancy. Upon expiry of the notice, possession proceedings can be issued in the County Court.


  • Make sure you have a comprehensive Tenancy Agreement in place. This agreement governs the relationship between you and the tenant and allows you to recover possession at the end of the contractual term or entitles you to prove a breach when seeking to rely on a section 8 notice.
  • Protect the deposit. If you fail to protect the deposit, you will be prevented from serving a valid section 21 notice and could face a claim of compensation from the tenant.
  • Comply with your statutory obligations i.e. gas safety, electrical safety, repairing obligations, EPC.
  • Keep a detailed and up to date photographic inventory. This will minimise any arguments regarding the condition of the property and will strengthen any dilapidation claims.
  • As soon as an issue arises, obtain legal advice to ensure you serve the appropriate notice.

If you have any queries, please contact Lee Pearce or Joe Brightman.