How can a landlord end my tenancy?

Have you ever wondered how a landlord can end your tenancy? Well, if your landlord wishes to end the tenancy, they must follow strict procedures, depending on the type of tenancy agreement you have and the terms of it. If they don’t, they may be guilty of illegally evicting or harassing you.

What type of tenancy do I have?

The most common form of tenancy is known as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Most new tenancies in England are automatically this type.

A tenancy can be an AST only if all of the following apply:

  • The landlord is a private landlord or a housing association
  • The tenancy started on or after 15 January 1989
  • The property is your main accommodation
  • The landlord doesn’t live in the property

A tenancy can’t be an AST if:

  • It began or was agreed before 15 January 1989
  • The rent is more than £100,000 a year
  • The rent is less than £250 a year (less than £1,000 in London)
  • It’s a business tenancy or tenancy of licensed premises
  • It’s a holiday let
  • The landlord is a local council

If the tenancy is not an AST, it is know as a "Common Law" tenancy where the provisions of the Housing Acts do not apply. However, the tenancy still provides protection to the tenant under the Protection From Eviction Act 1977, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. 

Rules your landlord must follow

Rules for fixed-term Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs)

Fixed-term tenancies run for a set amount of time, e.g. 6 months, 12 months, 24 months. Your landlord must give you notice in a certain way if you’re in a fixed-term tenancy.

Eviction during the fixed term

During the fixed term, your landlord can only end the tenancy for certain reasons - for example:

  • You haven’t paid the rent
  • You’re engaging in antisocial behaviour
  • There’s a "break clause" in your contract - this allows your landlord to take back the property before the end of the fixed term

A possession order won’t take effect until you’ve been living in the property for at least 6 months.

Eviction at the end of the fixed term

At the end of the fixed term, the landlord doesn’t need a reason to end the tenancy. As long as they’ve given you correct notice (they are required to send you what is known as a Form 6A (Notice seeking possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy) as required under the Housing Act 1988 Section 21 (1) and (4).

Form 6A must give you at least 2 months’ notice to leave your property.

If you don’t leave at the end of the notice period, they must apply to the court for a possession order, which gives them the right to evict you and take possession of the property.

If the court gives your landlord a possession order and you still don’t leave, your landlord must apply for a warrant for eviction - this means bailiffs can remove you from the property.

Rules for periodic ASTs

When a fixed term tenancy has ended and neither the landlord nor the tenant has served notice, the tenancy becomes what is know as a "periodic" tenancy. Such tenancies usually run on a month-by-month basis with no fixed end date.

To end the tenancy, the landlord must serve a Form 6A that gives you at least 2 months’ notice to leave your property.

If you don’t leave at the end of the notice period, the landlord must apply to the court for a possession order, which gives them the right to evict you and take possession of the property.

If the court gives your landlord a possession order and you still don’t leave, your landlord must apply for a warrant for eviction - this means bailiffs can remove you from the property.

A possession order won’t take effect until you’ve been living in the property for at least 6 months.

Additional requirements for landlords (ASTs)

Note that for any notice served to be valid the landlord must have protected your deposit in one of the Government approved deposit protection schemes.

If your landlord has done this, you should have received an email from the relevant scheme confirming the details.

Also, if your tenancy started after 30 September 2015 your landlord can’t end the tenancy unless they’ve given you:

  • A copy of or link to the guide "How to rent: the checklist for renting in England"
  • An energy performance certificate
  • A gas safety certificate

Rules for Common Law tenancies

If you have a Common Law tenancy your landlord doesn’t have to go to court to evict you. With a Common Law tenancy the landlord is entitled to possession at the end of the fixed-term.

Your landlord only needs to give you "reasonable notice" to quit. The notice doesn’t have to be in writing but it is good practice for them to do so.

Now for a wonderful point about English law: There are no set rules about what’s "reasonable", so it depends upon the circumstances of your particular case. However, it is usual for a clause to be written into the contract whereby each party must provide one or two months' notice to end the tenancy.

If there are problems during the tenancy, the landlord can bring the common law tenancy to an end where there has been a breach of any of the specified terms in the tenancy agreement. He (or she or it) is not restricted to the various terms laid down for ASTs.
 

Harassment and illegal evictions

An important point to note is that it’s a crime for your landlord to harass you or try to force you out of a property without using proper procedures. If this happens, you may have a right to claim damages through the court.

What is harassment?

Harassment can be anything a landlord does, or fails to do, that makes you feel unsafe in the property or forces you to leave.

Harassment can include:

  • Stopping services, like electricity
  • Refusing to carry out repairs
  • Anti-social behaviour by a landlord’s agent - e.g. a friend of the landlord moves in next door and causes problems
  • Threats and physical violence

Illegal eviction and tenants’ rights

Your landlord may be guilty of illegal eviction if you:

  • Aren’t given the notice to leave the property that your landlord must give you
  • Find the locks have been changed
  • Are evicted without a court order

Even if your landlord’s property is repossessed by their mortgage lender (yes, this does happen occasionally), the lender must give you a notice period so you can find other accommodation.

 

If you would like to know more about our tenancy services, please contact us here.

Image by Iain Watson.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK