All tenants in the UK must be given some form of notice if you want to end their tenancy. The length of that notice depends on what kind of tenancy they have and why they are being asked to leave. Here we take a look at some of the most common scenarios.
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What kind of tenant do you have?
If you have tenants in a buy-to-let property that you do not live in, it’s most likely they will have signed an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). If that tenancy agreement has a fixed term and your tenants are still within it, you can’t ask them to leave unless they have broken it in some way. Fixed terms are usually one year with a six month break clause, which either side can activate as long as they give the correct notice.
Assured shorthold tenancies can also be periodic which means they are weekly or monthly rolling contracts. Your tenants will move onto one of these when their fixed term contract has finished if they don’t sign a new one. In both cases, you must give them two months written notice to leave.
If you live with a lodger they’re known as excluded occupiers. If they have a fixed term contract, they do not have to leave until it is finished but once it has, or if the agreement is periodic, the notice period you need to give is the same length as the rental period. So if they pay weekly you need to give them a week’s notice, if they pay monthly one month’s notice is required.
Using a section 21 notice
In practice, most landlords and tenants end tenancies amicably simply by sending an end of tenancy letter giving the agreed notice period. However, section 21 eviction notice is the legally recognised way to start the eviction process of a tenant who has not broken any clauses in the tenancy agreement. This is known as a no fault eviction.
To make sure a section 21 notice isn’t invalid a landlord must do several things before serving one, including:
- Give two months’ notice.
- Fill in form 6A.
- Ensure the tenant’s deposit was in a deposit protection scheme within 30 days of signing the AST.
- Pay the deposit back in full if the previous point hasn’t been met.
- Give tenants a current gas safety certificate, energy performance certificate and the government’s how to rent guide.
The notice is also invalid if you’ve been given an improvement notice or emergency works notice for the property by the council. Or if you own a house of multiple occupations but do not have a license for it.
Tenants do not have to leave after the notice period has finished but you will be able to continue the eviction process through the court system.
Using a section 8 notice
A landlord can issue a section 8 eviction notice at any time during a tenancy if the tenant doesn’t pay their rent or breaks any other terms of the agreement. You can also use one if you have other legal obligations to meet, such as your buy-to-let home is being repossessed.
You must use the correct form and include all the correct details of the tenant’s name, address, the reason why you’re asking them to leave and the notice period. This varies from two weeks to two months depending on what the grounds for the eviction are.
There are 17 grounds landlords can refer to. The most common is number eight which covers a tenant being in rent arrears of at least two months. Landlords only need to give two weeks’ notice if this is the case. If the home is being possessed for a legal reason that isn’t the tenant’s fault, they will usually be granted two months notice.
Moving the eviction process on
In either situation, a tenant does not have to leave the property when the notice period has finished. But having correctly served a section 21 or section 8 notice means you can move to the next step in the process.
If you have served a section 21 notice you can apply to the court for an accelerated possession order. This is faster than a standard possession order. A judge will either order the tenant to leave or order a court hearing if they believe the tenant has a case to stay.
In section 8 notice cases only standard possession orders can be used. If there are incorrect details in your possession order or the tenant offers a way to pay their rent arrears, the judge may make a suspended possession order and allow them to stay.
If the judge orders the tenant to leave but they still don’t, you can apply for a warrant of possession. If this is granted bailiffs will evict them. However, to get to this point in the process can take many months.
Across the UK
Notice periods differ in each part of the UK. Those described here apply to England and are broadly the same in Wales.
However in Scotland, tenancies that began after December 1st 2017 are known as private residential tenancies and come with different notice periods. If a tenant has been in the property for less than six months, or has lived there longer but has broken the tenancy agreement, you must give them 28 days notice.
In all other cases, when the tenant is not at fault, the notice period is 84 days. And you cannot ask them to leave before their fixed term has finished.
In Northern Ireland, the notice period depends on the amount of time a tenant has been in a property. Tenants of five years or less must be given at least four weeks’ notice. For tenancies of between five and ten years, eight weeks’ notice is required. For those longer than ten years, 12 weeks’ notice must be given.
Selling your buy-to-let home quickly
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We’re experts at what we do. We buy any house, including ones in the private rental market. That means we can fit in around your needs and take a property off your hands as soon as your tenants have left, so you’re not making mortgage payments with no rent coming in. If you think we can help, get in touch.