Help for landlords

The information below is aimed at how we can give help and advice to landlords.

Protecting deposits

If you take a deposit from a tenant under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, you are legally required to protect the deposit in an approved scheme. For details of the schemes available see the following websites:.

If you fail to protect the deposit or provide the required information to the tenant then any Section 21 Notice you serve will not be valid, it is no longer acceptable to simply protect before a Possession Hearing.

Be aware of a recent court decision where a fixed term tenancy ends but the tenant remains in occupation under a renewed tenancy or a statutory periodic tenancy, any deposit that you continue to hold has then been taken in respect of a new tenancy and you must therefore have protected it.
 

Tenants not paying rent

Contact your tenants as soon possible if they fail to pay rent on time and tell them if they do not pay the rent due, you will start action to evict them. If a tenant says they cannot afford to pay the rent, please encourage them to contact our Housing Solutions Team on 01827 709486 or seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau/Tamworth Advice Centre on 03444 111 444.

If the tenant receives Housing Benefit and they are eight weeks in arrears, you can apply to have the benefit paid directly to you. If rent is due monthly, the tenant is eight weeks in arrears as soon as they have missed two rent payments. Speak to the Housing Benefits Team 01827 709540 to arrange this. You will need to ensure that you keep accurate rent statements.  We do ask that you to be reasonable to a tenant who offers a genuine solution such as if they are actively sorting out Housing Benefit or they can afford to pay off arrears over time.
 

Evicting your tenant

You must follow the correct procedure to evict your tenant :

  1. Serve a legally correct Notice Seeking Possession (either section 21 or section 8 Housing Act 1988)
  2. Wait for the notice period to expire i.e. the date on the notice to pass
  3. If the tenant has not vacated the property after this date, you must apply to the County Court to gain a Possession Order
  4. If the tenant does not leave by the date required on the possession order you must return to court and apply for a Warrant of Execution whereby bailiffs will be appointed to remove the tenant

The Council sees many notices that are invalid. We encourage you to make sure the notices you serve are correct, otherwise you will be wasting both time and effort.

NOTE: THE COUNCIL ACCEPTS NO LIABILITY ARISING FROM THE FOLLOWING ADVICE. IF IN DOUBT CONSULT A SOLICITOR.
 

Section 21 Notice

You can use a Section 21 notice if your tenants have either:

  • a written agreement with a fixed term that’s ended
  • an oral or written ‘periodic’ agreement (for example, month-by-month) with no fixed end date

If the tenancy started after April 2007, you can only use a Section 21 notice if you put the tenants’ deposit in a deposit protection scheme.

Giving tenants a Section 21 notice
A Section 21 notice must give your tenants at least 2 months notice to leave your property. Create a notice to give to your tenants by:

  • filling in form 6a if the tenancy started on or after 1 October 2015
  • writing your own notice if the tenancy started before 1 October 2015 - explain that you’re giving notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988

If the tenancy started before 1 October 2015 then the Section 21 Notice does not need to be on a special form, but it must:

  • be in writing
  • include your name and address and contact details. Write your name exactly as it is written on the tenancy agreement
  • include the tenant's name, again as written on the tenancy agreement
  • include the address of the property occupied by the tenant

Make clear to the tenant the date after which you require possession of the property and that the date must be correct and in line with the 2 month notice period otherwise the notice may be deemed invalid. Due to a change in law a notice has to be taken to court to start the possession proceedings within 6 months of the expiry of the notice.

When you must give more than 2 months notice
Fixed-term tenants can’t be evicted until their tenancy ends. If the fixed term has expired the notice must end on the last day of the rental period. So you will need to give more than 2 months notice if the rental period was more than 2 months (for example, it was paid quarterly).
 

How to apply for a possession order

Once the notice has expired, keep proof that you gave notice to your tenants - either:

If your tenants don’t leave by the specified date, you can use your completed N215 or notice to apply for an accelerated possession order
This is a quick method for landlords to gain possession of their property. The procedure is called accelerated because in most cases the Judge makes the order based on the paperwork, without the need for a court hearing.

Please note, this method can only be used when:

  • there is a written form of tenancy agreement
  • the tenancy is an assured short-hold tenancy (AST)
  • a valid form of section 21 notice has been served on the tenant
  • the notice period (two months) in this notice has expired
  • HMO landlords who need a license, have got one
  • any deposit has been properly protected and the notice with prescribed information served.
  • if the tenancy started after 1 October 2015 you will also have been required to provide your tenant with: an energy performance certificate, current gas safety certificate, prescribed information relating to the tenancy deposit scheme, the CLG booklet 'How to rent: the checklist for renting in England' failure to provide this at the start of a tenancy will render your notice invalid.

Current Court fees are published in leaflet EX50 – currently £355 or £325 if you apply online (Correct as of April 2017)
 

The nearest County Court serving the Tamworth Area is:

  • Warwickshire Justice Centre, PO Box 3878. Vicarage Street, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, CV11 4JU
     

Withdrawing a Section 21 Notice

If you serve a Section 21 Notice but then decide that you no longer require possession, we encourage you to write to the tenant confirming that you are withdrawing the notice. Otherwise the tenant may leave and you will then have the cost and hassle of finding a new tenant.
 

Serving Notices Seeking Possession

Section 8 and section 21 notices can be served in person or by mail. Be aware that a notice is served on the day the tenant receives it, not the day you send it.

Hence if you are going to post a notice to the tenant you will need to allow time for delivery to the tenant. Courts will accept proof of postage or a recorded delivery as proof of delivery on the day. However it is advisable to allow a few days extra on the notice period to allow sufficient time for it to arrive.  Sometimes respondents refuse to accept and sign for recorded delivery letters, which can cause delays therefore obtaining proof of postage is advisable.

If served in person, ideally you should get the tenant to sign a copy of the notice and retain as a receipt, alternatively get a witness to go with you. Personal service is preferable, with proof of postage being the next option recommended. Send a copy of the notice to any guarantors if applicable.
 

Section 8 Notice

A Section 8 Notice can be used to commence eviction at any time, including during a fixed term and a periodic tenancy, on one of the statutory grounds. Please remember that you will need to be able to prove to the Court the reasons why possession is being sought. The notice period for each statutory ground is included in the notice below. You must ensure the right notice period is given.

A Section 8 Notice is not a notice requiring possession and a tenant is not expected to leave by the date in a Section 8 Notice. The Section 8 Notice informs the tenant that you intend to apply to the County Court for a possession order, and enables you to do that once the notice period has expired.

To give your tenants notice using a Section 8, you must fill in a ‘Notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy’. Specify on the notice which terms of the tenancy they’ve broken.
You can give between 2 weeks and 2 months notice depending on which terms they’ve broken. You can apply to the court for a possession order if your tenants don’t leave by the specified date.

How to apply for a Possession Order

Once a valid Section 8 Notice has expired you can apply for possession as explained above. If you are seeking possession on grounds of rent arrears you can alternatively use Possession Claim On-line Service. Current Court fees are published in leaflet EX50 – currently £355 for paper copies and £325 online using PCOL system (April 2017).

Further information

New tenancies are automatically Assured Shorthold Tenancies unless the tenancy agreement specifies otherwise, or unless you are a resident landlord in which case it is an excluded tenancy.

 For more information see Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies: A guide for landlords. For more information about tenancies and landlord rights and responsibilities visit the Government website, or one of the many websites for landlords.