As anyone who rents a property will know, private landlords owe a significant amount of duties to their tenants. These duties are particularly important in the context of possession, which can arise when a landlord requires the tenant to leave the property, but the tenant refuses.
The most important duties are to comply with the relevant legislation on deposit protection, which is the requirement to place the tenants deposit in a specified scheme run by the Government. This is particularly important as the failure to do so will limit the landlord’s options for seeking possession. There is also the requirement to serve various documents, including information on energy performance gas safety and How to Rent Information, which a recent case has confirmed must be provided at the start of the tenancy.
When a Landlord requires possession, they can serve a notice requiring the tenant to give up occupation. There are two types of notice, a Section 8 Notice and a Section 21 Notice. A Section 8 Notice can only be used when there is a breach of contract, the most common, but by no means the only, ground being rent arrears. Section 8 Notices can be immediate or will be triggered after a short period of time, depending on the breach. By contrast, a Section 21 Notice does not require a breach of contract, and there are large number of grounds that can be used. The key different is that while a Section 8 can, in some cases, be immediate, a Section 21 gives two months’ notice, and a possession claim cannot be issued within this time. Irrespective of the notice, if the tenant moves out, no further action is required.
If the tenant fails to comply with the notice, proceedings are issued. When a landlord has complied with the statutory requirements, they can issue an accelerated possession claim online. If the form is compliant, and the Court is satisfied the Landlord is entitled to possession, they will issue the order without a hearing.
In all other cases, or when there is a defect is complying with the requirements, a possession application must be issued on full notice. The Landlord will need to submit to the Court a claim form and a prescribed particular of claim. The choice of court is normally left to the Claimant, but it would be advisable to consider issuing in the Court closest to the property to give the Defendant an opportunity to attend. Once the Claim has been issued, a hearing will be fixed and there will be an opportunity for the parties to submit a witness statement. The Judge will then decide based on all the factors at a hearing.