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Questions about the eviction process?

We’ve got the answers.

Don’t worry if you’re concerned about an eviction. That’s what we’re here for.

The Eviction Process – Your Questions Answered.

Q: What type of notice do I need to serve?

A: A Section 21 notice is the most common way to end an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreement and is often referred to as a ‘no fault’ notice as you do not need to provide a tenant with a reason for the notice. A Section 21 notice will only be applicable to fixed term or open-ended tenancies and informs the tenant(s) you wish to repossess the property at the end of the tenancy or using an agreed break clause (if one exists in the contract).

You cannot serve a Section 21 notice if:

  • It is less than 4 months since the tenancy began
  • The tenants’ deposit is not protected in a deposit scheme
  • The council has ordered you to undertake repairs

Visit our blog for more information on Section 21 notices.

A Section 8 notice applies to assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreements and outlines the landlords intention to terminate a tenancy early and repossess the property from the tenant(s). A Section 8 notice normally involves some breach in the tenancy agreement, anti-social behaviour, or a failure to pay rent. A Section 8 notice can be served at any point during the tenancy.

Visit our blog for more information on Section 8 notices.

If you’re unsure, an eviction solicitor will be able to provide legal advice to help you decide which eviction notice you need.

Q: What is the required notice?

A: This will depend on the type of notice you’re serving. In relation to Section 21 notices, you must provide the tenant with at least 2 months notice.

Required notice for Section 8 notices will depend on the grounds given for eviction, which can be either mandatory (judge must award possession if ground met) or discretionary, a full list of these ground can be found on our Section 8 page. The notice will range between 2 weeks and 2 months, depending on which grounds are used.

Q: Can Section 8 and Section 21 notices be served simultaneously?

Yes and in some cases this is advisable. For example, a tenant may be in 2 months (or 8 weeks) rent arrears and therefore served a Section 8 notice. Even if the tenant settles the rent arrears, the landlord may still want to repossess the property, and therefore they can simultaneously serve a Section 21 notice to repossess the property after the tenancy ends.

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call to action on eviction notice type

Q: How long does the eviction process take?

A: It’s very difficult to put an exact timeframe regarding the eviction process as it will depend on many factors. A rough estimate may be possible depending on the situation.

On average, an eviction takes around 6 weeks; however, in some cases it can take as long as 6 months.

Q: I’ve served the eviction notice, is it possible to speed up the eviction process?

A: No. It’s incredibly important to avoid any potential harassment against the tenant, even if they’re refusing to vacate the property as this is considered a crime and could result in criminal sanctions.

Q: I own an HMO and want to evict all the tenants. How do I do this?

A: Whilst it is sometimes assumed easier to evict tenants from an HMO, most tenant’s living in HMOs have ASTs and therefore require standard procedure to be evicted. Therefore, it is possible to serve each tenant with a Section 21 notice or each tenant with a Section 8 notice, given either mandatory or discretionary grounds are met.

It’s important to note that a landlord must hold a valid HMO license to serve a Section 21 notice to the tenant(s). It’s advisable to seek legal advice before starting the eviction process involving an HMO – contact our team via 0203 007 5500 or [email protected].

Q: What happens if I rent my property out as social housing through the council?

A: If you rent your property out as social housing through the council, the eviction process will follow a slightly different procedure. You must first notify the council that you wish to terminate your contract with them, they will then serve the tenant(s) an eviction notice, most likely a Section 21 notice.

Q: What is mediation?

A: Mediation involves a third party assisting the landlord and tenant(s) to come to a mutually agreeable situation. This can be a quicker and cheaper alternative to the court possession process and leaves the tenant and landlord, rather than the court, in charge.

Q: What documents do I need to serve an eviction notice?

A: The documents required for an eviction will differ depending on the type of notice you are serving.

To serve a valid Section 21 notice you must have protected the tenant’s deposit under 1 of the 3 government schemes. If the tenant’s deposit is not protected under 1 of the 3 government schemes, you must have returned their deposit. You must also have provided the tenant(s) with a valid and up to date copy of the:

  • Gas safety certificate
  • Energy performance certificate
  • ‘How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England’ government produced guide
  • Property’s valid HMO license (if required)
  • Property’s valid selective license (if required)

You will need evidence that these documents have been served on the tenant so if you require legal advice on an eviction involving a Section 21 notice, please send us copies of any correspondence to [email protected].

The notice itself must be served on Form 6A. It is also advisable to keep proof after delivering a Section 21 notice by filling in an N215 Form.

Section 8 notice does not require any accompanying documents to have been provided. The notice itself must be produced on ‘Form 3: Notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy’. To ensure the form is valid, it must include:

  • The tenants’ name
  • The property address
  • The reason for the eviction
  • The date by which court proceedings will start if the tenant does not leave

Q: What if I don’t have the required documents to serve a Section 21 notice?

A: If you do not have the required documents (listed in the above section), you cannot serve a valid Section 21 notice. If you can source the documents and provide them to the tenant, you can then serve the notice. Otherwise, you may be able to serve a Section 8 notice if there is some fault on the tenant’s side.

Q: Can I serve an eviction notice by email?

A: A notice can be served by email if this if it is permitted in your tenancy agreement.

If this is something that is permitted in your tenancy agreement, and you wish to serve a tenant a notice by email, make sure it is to the correct email address and that the tenant has properly received the notice.

Q: Do I need a reason to evict a tenant?

A: This depends on the type of notice you are issuing. If the tenant is approaching the end of their tenancy or their tenancy is open-ended and you are serving a Section 21 notice, no reason is necessary to serve an eviction notice.

If you are wanting to terminate a tenancy early with a Section 8 notice, you will need a valid reason to evict the tenant. Some common reasons for serving a Section 8 notice are in the following section.

Q: What reasons can I give to evict a tenant?

A: There are various valid reasons to serve a tenant a Section 8 notice, below are the 8 most commonly given:

  • Rent arrears – if a tenant fails to pay their rent for more than 8 weeks (or 2 months)
  • Consistent late rental payments
  • Mortgage lender is repossessing the property
  • Breach of tenancy agreement – this can be anything from smoking, pets, or subletting
  • Anti-social or illegal behaviour
  • Required repairs, property is no longer habitable, or landlord wants to develop
  • Damage to property
  • Tenant obtained property under false pretences – fake references etc

For a full list of the 17 grounds, see our page on Section 8 notices.

Q: Can you use multiple grounds to evict a tenant under a Section 8 notice?

Yes, a landlord can use multiple grounds under a Section 8 notice. For example, a tenant may be in rent arrears and have damaged the property.

Q: What if a tenant does not respond to the notice?

A: If a tenant has not responded to an eviction notice, the first thing you need to do is ensure the delivery of the notice was successful; and that all the information on the notice is correct. If the notice did not arrive or the information is not correct, a new notice will need to be served.

You do not necessarily need to confirm that the tenant is aware of the eviction notice but merely that the notice was successfully served – this will depend on the tenancy agreement. Most tenancy agreements will state that a notice will be ‘deemed served‘ if delivered in an approved manner. These will generally be:

  • Leaving it at the property
  • Sending the notice by recorded delivery
  • Sending the notice by first class post

If the tenant is not responding, it’s time to start a court eviction process. If you have served the tenant a Section 21 notice, the court will automatically rule in your favour and bailiffs will evict the tenant.

If instead you have served them a Section 8 notice, the tenant will have a chance to put forward their case in court. If they do not show up to the court hearing, the court will automatically rule in your favour.

Q: The tenant is refusing to vacate the property after receiving a notice, is this legal?

A: Just because you have served your tenant with an eviction notice, this doesn’t automatically mean they’ll vacate, or must vacate, the property by the date you requested. If a tenant feels they have grounds to contest the eviction, they can ignore the eviction date and refuse to vacate the property, opting instead to take it to court.

In this case, you will have to issue a possession claim, of which there are two types:

  • An accelerated possession claim refers to when there is no rent owed, or the landlord is willing to waive any rent owed, by the tenant(s) and is common with Section 21 notices
  • A standard possession claim refers to when the tenant has outstanding costs (such as rent arrears) and are more common with Section 8 notices

Q: I am not sure if my tenant is still in the property – do I still need to serve an eviction notice?

A: If you are unsure if your tenant is still in the property, it’s best to serve a Section 21 notice – so long as all the requirements are met. For example, they have been in the property a minimum of 4 months and the notice provides 2 months’ notice.

It may be possible to serve a Section 8 notice if some of the grounds are met however this is unlikely to be necessary if the tenant no longer is in the property.

Q: Can I recover the unpaid rent?

Recovering rent arrears will depend on the situation. If a tenant does not have any money to pay you currently or is withholding rent, there there are some steps you can take:

  • Determine how many tenants are liable
  • Contact guarantors to see if they will pay the debt
  • File a county court judgement (CCJ) – this will order the tenant to pay an amount up to £3,000 and will remain on their record and even if they don’t pay straight away, the issues it causes further down the line may force them to pay eventually. CCJ’s will apply for 6 years
  • If the amount is over £3,000 or you require payment sooner, you can file a claim in the High Court
  • Both the CCJ and High Court judgement will authorise bailiffs to recover the amount

Recovering rent arrears or damages can be incredibly complex and difficult, if you require legal advice contact us on or 0203 007 5500 or [email protected].

Q: My tenant is on housing benefits but owes rent, is there anything I can do?

If your tenant owes you rent but claims either universal credit or housing benefits, it may be possible to request ‘managed payments’.

This allows the money to come directly to you and may mean you no longer have to evict the tenant.

Q: What if a tenant damages my property before they leave?

A: If your tenant damages the property before or during the eviction process, there are multiple avenues you can take. If one exists, you can claim the damages out of the tenant’s security deposit. In this case you will need to prove the tenant caused the damage and this may be difficult without evidence – for example, pictures of the prior condition of the property or an inventory.

If the damages exceed the value of the security deposit, you can apply to the small claims court.

If you require legal advice on damages, contact our team via 0203 007 5500 or [email protected].

Q: Can a tenant request damages – for example, for loss of work during the eviction process?

A: Compensation to the tenant will depend on a variety of factors. For example, why they are being evicted; if a tenant is being evicted due to necessary repairs or redevelopment they are possibly entitled to home-loss or disturbance payments (such as to cover moving costs).

Tenants may otherwise seek compensation for distress, inconvenience, or financial losses due to the eviction process.

You may also wish to provide a good-will compensation payment to a tenant, this may aid the eviction process and save you money in legal fees further down the line.

Q: What happens if I forgot to protect my tenant’s deposit?

A: Forgetting to protect a tenants’ deposit carries potentially severe consequences. If you forgot to protect a deposit, you are no longer able to serve the tenant(s) with a Section 21 notice as the unprotected deposit will invalidate the notice.

You may still be able to recover possession through a Section 8 notice, however the lack of deposit protection greatly complicates this process. The tenant(s) may claim against the landlord and is possibly entitled to a sum of up to 3 times the value of the deposit. If, for example, the grounds for the Section 8 claim are rent arrears, this sum could cover the cost of these and greatly weaken, if not completely derail, the landlord’s claim.

If you are in this situation, the first step is to repay the tenant(s) deposit. Following this you will be able to serve a valid Section 21 notice and follow standard procedure. You may still face sanctions for the lack of deposit protection; however these are likely to be less severe.

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Removing a Tenant

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Q: Do I have to provide alternative accommodation during repairs or development?

A: During most repair work, tenants will have a right to remain in the property during the works and may request reduced rent as compensation. If the repairs are so extensive as to make the property uninhabitable, you must give the tenant notice and inform them how long the repairs will take place for, and how much rent they’ll need to pay during this period.

They may also request alternative accomodation (such as a hotel) or compensation (to cover moving costs and disruption) during this period. Whether you have to provide this will depend on the tenancy agreement and whether this was pre-agreed.

In the case of development, a landlord must provide alternative accomodation to the tenant(s) under Section 30(1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. This accomodation must be suitable to the tenant’s requirements – for example, it must be reasonably close in location and be practically fit for the tenant(s) – and the tenant must receive suitable notice to allow time for negotiation.

Q: If a tenant is refusing to leave, can I shut off the utilities?

A: No. Never consider shutting off any of the utilities as this would constitute a criminal offence under the Housing Act 2004. It would also place you in a terrible position if the eviction process ended up in court.

Q: If my tenant has stopped paying rent, do I still need to maintain the property?

A: If a tenant has stopped paying rent, it is important to follow the correct eviction procedures and not engage in any aggressive tactics such as abstaining from maintaining the property.

Not only could this tactic result in your own property falling into a state of disrepair, it could also weaken your court position and provide the tenant with possible explanations for their rent arrears.

Q: If I am granted a warrant of possession, can I remove the tenant myself?

A: No and it is incredibly important to always follow the standard eviction process to avoid any illegality. If the court grants a warrant of possession and the tenant(s) are refusing to leave even after the set eviction date, bailiffs will be authorised to remove the tenant(s).

Q: If a tenant is refusing to leave, shall I keep contacting them?

A: No. It’s incredibly important to not engage in any harassment as this is a criminal offence and may derail the eviction process and result in criminal charges.

If the eviction date in the notice has passed, and the tenant is refusing to vacate the property, you must proceed with a possession claim. This will either be a standard or accelerated possession claim, as outlined in the ‘General Eviction Questions‘ section.

Q: When can I change the locks on the property?

A: It is very important to wait until after the tenant has vacated the property to change the locks. If you change the locks while the tenant is still living at the property, this will constitute an illegal eviction and could have severe legal consequences.

Q: If a letting agency manages my property, can I still serve the notice myself?

A: If a letting agency manages a property on your behalf, you do not need to go through them to serve the tenant an eviction notice and you can instead do this directly. If you’d prefer, it’s likely the letting agency would draft and serve the eviction notice on your behalf.

Q: My tenant left their furniture and belongings, what do I do with it?

A: If a tenant has left behind their belongings, you must try to return them to the tenant before disposing of them, unless you otherwise stated this in the tenancy agreement.

If you dispose of any belongings, a tenant may be able to claim damages depending on the value of the items. If you have attempted to contact the tenant and informed them of where the items are being held and by which date you will hold them till, you may then dispose of them if the tenant still does not collect them.

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call to action on removing a tenant
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The Court Process

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Q: I have served my tenant a possession claim and they still won’t leave the property – what do I do?

A: In this case, you will need to begin court proceedings and apply for a warrant of possession. If the court grants a warrant of possession, bailiffs are now authorised to remove the tenant(s) from the property if they remain beyond the stated eviction date.

The time given to the tenant to vacate the property will depend on whether the grounds were mandatory or discretionary:


In this case, the court will grant the tenant between 14 days and 6 weeks to vacate the property.


In this case, the court will decide on a number of outcomes:

  • An outright order for possession within, usually, 14 days
  • A suspension of the order for as long as the court deems fit
  • A postponed date of possession

Postponement will generally be granted if the tenant is potentially exposed to hardship if evicted on short notice or if the court feels the tenant can resolve the landlord’s issues; for example, pay rent arrears.

Q: Can a tenant challenge an eviction notice?

A: There are various reasons a tenant may challenge an eviction notice in court, for example:

  • They have evidence of them attempting to, or plans to, change the situation and amend the breaches
  • The tenant(s) feels the landlord breached the tenancy agreement
  • A tenant feels they are being discriminated against

Q: How long will I need to wait for a court hearing if one is required?

A: The length of time you need to wait for an eviction court date in the UK will depend on the circumstances and complexity of your case, as well as the availability of court resources.

If a hearing is required, the court will typically set a date within 4-8 weeks of the application being made, however in some cases it may be longer.

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call to action on court process

Q: Do I need to be present at the court hearing?

A: Yes, as the claimant you or a legal representative must be present at the eviction hearing regardless of whether the tenant themselves attends.

Q: What happens if my tenant doesn’t show up in court?

A: If your tenant does not show up to the court hearing, it is more likely the judge will rule in the favour of the landlord as the tenant is not there to give their side of the story. If the judge grants a warrant of possession and authorises bailiffs to remove the tenant(s) from the property, the court will inform the tenant(s) of this outcome.

Q: What are the consequences of an illegal eviction?

A: If found guilty of an illegal eviction, the consequences can be severe ranging from a fine to, in some cases, a jail term. The court will also potentially award compensation to the affected tenant in the event of an illegal eviction. To determine this, they will examine the extent and severity of any harm caused through the eviction process. Any aggressive tactics or harassment will exacerbate any compensation claim.

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Excluded Tenancies or Licenses

If you’re a landlord and your tenant lives with you (for example, a lodger), you do not need to produce an eviction notice or go to court to evict them. You only need to give the tenant ‘reasonable notice’, which doesn’t need to be in writing.

There are no predefined rules on what determines reasonable notice, and it will depend on a variety of factors such as:

  • How long the tenant has been living there
  • How often the tenant pays rent
  • The tenant’s relationship with the landlord
  • How quickly the landlord needs another person to move in

After giving the tenant(s) reasonable notice, you can change the locks even without the tenant(s) removing their belongings – however, you will have to return their belongings to them.

A tenant may feel the notice was unreasonable. In this case, they’ll likely contact their local council and request legal action against you on the grounds the eviction was illegal. It’s therefore recommended to at least have some evidence of the notice, either formally or informally, so that you have some evidence to produce if required.

Assured and Regulated Tenancies

If your tenancy started before the 15th of January 1989, it may be an assured or regulated tenancy. If this is the case, the eviction process is more complicated as these tenants have more rights.

To evict a tenant under an assured or regulated tenancy agreement, you must have a valid reason (such as rent arrears or damages) and get a court order. The court must then deem it reasonable to evict the tenant.

When can you give a notice to quit?

A: A notice to quit can only be used to end tenancy’s that are rolling, such as weekly or monthly agreements. The most common situations in which a notice to quit is served are:

  • When the tenant is a student in a halls of residence
  • When you live in the same building as your tenant, but in a separate residence/flat
  • If a tenant is renting from their employer and the property is required for work purposes

If a tenant has been served a notice to quit but is refusing to vacate the property, you must follow court procedures to evict them.

My tenant sublet the property to someone else which the tenancy prohibits. What can I do?

A: If a tenant is subletting without consent, this will constitute a breach of the tenancy agreement meaning the process of evicting the tenant can now begin. In this case, the procedure would involve serving the tenant a Section 8 Notice, citing the discretionary Ground 12.

In relation to the illegal subtenant, the law considers this individual a trespasser and an eviction requires no court order.

It is important to note that the tenancy agreement must explicitly cover subletting for it to constitute a breach. For example, on fixed-term tenancies of 6 months or longer, tenants can sublet without a landlord’s consent if it is not mentioned in the tenancy agreement.

My tenant sublet the property to someone else which the tenancy allows. Who do I serve the eviction notice on?

A: If the subtenancy is lawful, you will have to first evict the primary tenant under a Section 21 or Section 8 notice, depending on the circumstances. You can simultaneously serve the subtenant a notice that they must also vacate the property upon the end of the main tenant’s lease.

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call to action on eviction of a subtenant

I do not have a formal tenancy with my tenant, but I want to evict them. What do I do?

A: Without a written contract, you are unable to serve a tenant a no-fault Section 21 notice and instead must serve a Section 8 and produce reasonable and legitimate grounds (either mandatory or discretionary) for the eviction. This will then follow the standard court procedure for Section 8 notices.

I cannot find my agreement, my tenant did not sign an agreement, or I do not have a copy of the tenancy agreement – what do I do?

A: Similarly to not having a formal tenancy, if you cannot produce written proof of a signed tenancy agreement, you cannot serve a tenant a Section 21 no fault notice. Instead, you will have to serve a Section 8 notice, with valid ground(s), and apply for a possession order in court.

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call to action on anything eviction related