If you have a private landlord, in nearly all cases the landlord cannot make you leave without first getting a court order. Before the landlord can go to court he has to serve the correct notice and wait for the notice to expire.
If you have an assured contract, the correct notice is a notice under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. This type of notice is known as a notice seeking possession or NSP. The length of the notice will be either two weeks or two months, depending on the grounds for possession.
If you have an assured shorthold contract, the correct notice can be either an NSP or a notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, depending on the circumstances.
The grounds for possession are set out in the Housing Act 1988 (as amended). There are two different types of grounds - mandatory grounds and discretionary grounds.
If your landlord goes to court on a mandatory ground and wins, the court must grant a possession order. If the case against you is based on a discretionary ground, the court will only grant a possession order if it is reasonable to do so.
There are three separate grounds for possession connected to rent. Mandatory Ground 8 can be used if you pay monthly and you owe at least two months’ rent. Discretionary Ground 10 can be used if you owe some rent but less than two months. Discretionary Ground 11 can be used if you have a history of paying rent late. Other grounds for possession cover things like damage and general breaches of contract such as subletting without consent when consent is required. Landlords can seek possession on more than one ground at the same time and can use a combination of mandatory and discretionary grounds.
In our experience, Sheffield landlords who let to students very rarely take legal action to make anyone leave and will normally only do so if there are significant rent arrears or there has been another serious breach of contract.
Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 is a special way to end assured shorthold contracts. All a landlord has to do is serve a valid notice and obtain a court order. There is no requirement to prove a ground for possession. There are different rules for fixed term and periodic contracts.
If your contract is fixed term (ie it lasts for a fixed period of time such as 12 months), a Section 21 notice must be in writing and must be at least two months. It can be served during the fixed term but the landlord will normally not be able to make you leave until after the fixed term has come to an end.
If your contract is periodic (also known as a rolling contract), the rules are more complicated. The notice must be in writing and must be at least two months but could be longer (eg three months if you pay your rent quarterly). It must expire on the correct date (the day before the next rent payment is due) and state that possession is required under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. In addition, although the notice can be served at any time, the landlord will not be able to make you leave until six months after the beginning of the contract.
Section 21 cannot be used:
Always get advice if your landlord serves notice on you. Even notices which look very official are sometimes invalid.
If you live in the same building as your landlord and you share living accommodation with the landlord, or a member of the landlord's family, you will be an excluded occupier. An excluded occupier can be evicted without a court order. If you live in the same building as your landlord but you do not share living accommodation with the landlord, or a member of the landlord's family, you will have basic protection. Occupiers with basic protection cannot be evicted without a court order. A building converted into flats counts as the same building. Purpose-built blocks of flats do not. Living accommodation means any room but excludes stairs and hallways.
Student A buys a house. Student B rents a room in the house. Student A and Student B share the living room, kitchen and bathroom. Student B is an excluded occupier.
Student B moves into a large house which has been divided into flats. The landlord lives in a flat in the ground floor. Student B lives in a flat on the first floor. Although the landlord is a resident landlord, there is no shared accommodation so Student B has basic protection.
Student B rents a room in a house which is owned by Student A's parents. Student A lives in the house but he is not the landlord. Student B is an assured shorthold tenant.
Page updated 15 June 2015