Understanding your rights and responsibility under a tenancy will assist landlords and tenants in helping to make sure lettings run smoothly and that both parties have a clear understanding of their relationship. Deposits in the private rented sector now need to held centrally in a government operated scheme. Eviction can be a complex area of the law and the requirements to be able to use eviction notices has changed.
Information for tenants
I have paid a deposit to my landlord but I am not sure whether it has been protected or not, what can I do?
Your landlord only needs to protect your deposit if you have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST)
What can I do if my deposit has not been properly protected?
What should my landlord do at the start of my tenancy?
- The property’s Energy Performance Certificate
- A current gas safety certificate for the property
- The government’s ‘How to rent’ guide
If they have not done, so you should ask for them. Ultimately, it can be much more difficult for a landlord to evict you if these documents have not been provided. Although not a legal requirement (unless you live an area covered by selective licensing or you specifically request one) we strongly recommend that the relationship between you and your landlord is defined in a tenancy agreement. This makes clear who is responsible for what, how long the agreement is for and how much you are paying for the property. It protects both the landlord and tenant. You will need a tenancy agreement if you need to claim for Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.
Disputes about rent are not uncommon so its important you are clear about when rent is due and how you will receive acknowledgement of rent being received by your landlord. You will have to be given a rent book if you are paying your rent on a weekly basis. Electronic payments are very useful as they provide a record of when a payment is made.
I am an assured short hold tenant. Under what circumstances can a landlord evict me?
If you do not leave your property within the time provided on an eviction notice, your landlord can apply to Court for a possession order. The judge will consider if the landlord has complied with certain conditions relating to the tenancy including whether they have given you the prescribed information (see above), whether they have charged any illegal fees & whether your deposit has been protected. Shelter have provided in depth guidance about eviction proceedings here. Ultimately you can only be forcibly evicted from a property by a bailiff acting under a warrant granted by the Court. However we strongly recommend you start evaluating your housing options upon receiving an eviction notice. A landlord can use a section 21 notice in response to you complaining about repairs unless the Housing Enforcement team have served certain legal notices with regard to disrepair. For this reason, it's important to try to attempt to discuss your repairs with your landlord before complaining to us. There is more information concerning how to do this on our repairs page.
I've fallen into rent arrears. What should I do?
You should check that what the landlord is claiming in rent arrears tallies with the payments you think you have made. Use your rent book (mandatory for weekly rent payments), payment receipts and bank statements to check. Ask your landlord for a statement detailing the total amount and how the amount has built up over time. If your rent is paid by the Council, please contact us. Once you have established the amount owed, you should discuss the matter with your landlord. It's always worthwhile to be honest and explain the problems you had leading up to the debt. Discuss what you could reasonably afford to pay off and don't be pressured into an agreement which is not sustainable for you. Ideally any repayment plan should be signed by you and your landlord. Stepchange are a charity who can offer advice concerning rent arrears and debt management. Please click here for further details concerning stepchange
Information for landlords
Why should I take a deposit?
Do I have to protect a deposit?
Deposit Protection Scheme
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
You must provide written confirmation within 30 days to your tenant that you have protected their deposit with details of the scheme.
What happens if I do not protect my tenants deposit in one of the certified schemes?
I’m thinking of renting out my house what steps should I take?
The property’s Energy Performance Certificate
A current gas safety certificate for the property
The government’s ‘How to rent’ guide
An electrical safety certificate.
Failure to provide this information precludes you from taking eviction action under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (see eviction tabs below). Houses in multiple occupation are likely to need licensing and selective licensing is in operation in certain parts of the Borough. Please see our landlord licensing pages for further info.
We strongly recommend using a tenancy agreement to define the terms under which the property is being let. If you're confident you can use your own agreement or you can seek out legal advice. Click here for a model tenancy agreement from the government. You would be advised to provide an inventory of the premises with a description of the items within the property, their condition where relevant and their replacement value. It is advisable for you and your tenant to agree and both sign copies of this inventory and provide a copy to your tenant and keep a copy for yourself. A video recording of the condition of the property shortly before it is let could also prove to be very useful. It goes without saying that the property should be safe and in a good state of repair when you commence the tenancy and you will need to monitor this periodically through inspections. Please visit our repairs page, standards page and fire safety page for further information.
I am thinking of using a letting agent. What should I do? Do the Council offer a service?
Think first about what level of management you require - someone just to find tenants? Or someone to fully manage every aspect of your property. The extent of service will be reflected in fees which are generally between 10-15% of the rental value. It is now a legal requirement that letting agents are registered with Property Ombudsman Service or Property Redress Scheme.
Reputation is crucial, so we recommend speaking to other landlords concerning who they'd recommend as an agent
Information on the possession action process for landlords (Including the New Housing Possession Mediation Service)
It's always a good idea to try to resolve things informally, however this may not always provide a resolution. The information below is a basic overview of the options available.
Possession action during Covid-19 and the new mediation service
- Landlords will need to confirm their intention to carry on with a possession case by completing a re-activation notice and sending it to both the Court and the tenant(s), if the notice was served prior to August 3rd 2020. Account will need to be made of any changes to the tenant's circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (particularly in relation to increased vulnerability or changes to social security status) . This will apply to existing and new claims as well as accelerated possession claims. Changes will be in force until March 2021.
- Re-activation notices are not required where you already have a possession order. Landlords in this situation can move to executing the warrant by using a bailiff service.
- Courts will have greater flexibility in setting the hearing date which was previously set at the same time as a claim form being issued. They will now be able to set the date following the production of the claim form. There will no longer be a requirement for the Court to set a date within 8 weeks of the claim form being issued.
- Evidence of rent arrears will now be needed in advance of the hearing. Tenants can request the Courts extend the possession date if they have suffered extreme hardship as a result of the pandemic; you will be alerted to this in the tenant's defence statement.
- High court bailiffs will need to provide notice to the tenant of the eviction date in the same way that county court bailiffs issue notice. The notice shall include details of how the tenant can apply to suspend the eviction and where to go for help.
- The Government is strongly advising landlords not to pursue eviction in non-priority cases. It considers priority cases to be those involving anti-social behaviour, extreme rent arrears, domestic abuse, cases involving squatters, fraud or unlawful subletting.
- Landlords are being actively encouraged to pursue mediation where possible to avoid eviction proceedings. If possession proceedings are commenced, at the case review stage, if both parties agree, the case will also be referred for mediation. The government is funding the Housing Possession Mediation Service (HPMS) which will be free to use for landlords and tenants. Where you and your tenant reach an agreement, the case will not proceed to a substantive hearing. This pilot will be available for at least 6 months from February 2021.
How do I decide whether to use Section 8 or Section 21?
If the tenancy is coming to an end you must give a notice period of at least 2 months that you want to end the tenancy by serving a Section 21 notice on your tenant(s), commonly known as a not at fault notice. Once a tenancy has become periodic, you can use the no fault section 21 process at any point. If your tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy agreement then you may serve a Section 8 Notice. The Housing Act 1988 provides specific grounds on when Section 8 can be used. More details on both types of eviction and the process can be found on the government's possession pages
What is a Section 21 Notice?
Under what circumstances is Section 21 not available?
- If you have not protected the tenants deposit in a deposit protection scheme (Only if the tenancy started after April 2007).
- If we have served either an improvement notice or an emergency works on the property within the last 6 months.
- If you haven’t paid back any unlawful fees or deposits that you have charged the tenant. Please see our fees page for further info.
- If you have not already given the tenant a copy of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate, gas safety certificate (where required) or “How to rent” guide.
- If you have not used form 6a (government eviction notice) or a letter with all the same information on it and the tenancy started after October 2015
- If you are operating a property subject to HMO or selective licensing but have failed to obtain a licence.
- If you have not provided an energy performance certificate (EPC) or landlord's gas safety certificate.
- When it is less than 4 months since the tenancy started or the fixed term has not ended unless you have included a clause in the contract that allows you to do this.
What is a Section 8 Notice & how long do I need to provide on it?
How must I serve a Section 8 or Section 21 Notice & what happens if the tenant doesn't leave?
If your tenant does not leave at the end of the notice period, you will need to apply to Court for a possession order. If the tenant owes you rent, you will need to apply for a standard possession order, if they do not, you can apply for an accelerated possession order. Ultimately you can employ bailiffs to secure possession after you have been granted possession by applying for a warrant for possession. Please be aware that for tenancies starting before 27th February 1997, different processes apply. Please click here for the government's main page on eviction which has links to the legal forms required to progress your action. After your application for a possession order, the tenant will be notified and they will have 14 days to challenge it. Representations will be taken into account by a judge who may request a court hearing or make a decision based on the papers submitted. In granting a possession order, a judge can provide up to a further 6 weeks for the tenant to leave your property.
However, before taking steps to recover possession of your property, you should consider discussing any underlying problems with your tenant, either directly or through a mediation service, and try to resolve these without recourse to court action. This could save you time and money. You can find more information and advice on how to resolve problems with your tenant without needing to go to court in Part 2 of Understanding the possession action process: A guide for private landlords in England and Wales.
If possession proceedings are commenced, at the case review stage, if both parties agree, the case will also be referred for mediation. The government is funding the Housing Possession Mediation Service (HPMS) which will be free to use for landlords and tenants. Where you and your tenant reach an agreement, the case will not proceed to a substantive hearing. This pilot will be available for at least 6 months from February 2021.