Depending on your tenancy type, there are set procedures your landlord must follow to serve notice.
Section 21 notice
If your landlord intends to end the AST then he must serve you with written notice, which should be for a certain period of time: two months or two weeks depending on the circumstances. In most cases, the notice issued will be for two months and is often referred to as a ‘Section 21 notice’ (this refers to the legal section as set out in housing law).
Your landlord does not need to specify a reason for eviction when using a Section 21 notice. But unless there’s a break clause in your tenancy it’s likely to be at the end of your fixed notice period (e.g. 12 months) – in which case, the landlord will need to serve the notice two months prior to this date. If your tenancy is running as a periodic, your landlord should still give you two months notice i.e. two months to find somewhere else to live and move out – and will end on the day before the rent is paid.
If you don’t move out
If you don’t move out by the time the notice period is up, your landlord will need to go through the court to evict you. Be aware that staying in the property isn’t something you should consider lightly, as your landlord may charge you any fees incurred in going to court to evict you. Your landlord will present all the written documents relating to your tenancy at court and it will be their decision to issue a ‘possession order’, which gives the landlord permission to evict you from the property.
Where a Section 21 notice has been served, the court will usually allow eviction, providing the papers are accurate and have been served correctly. Generally, a court order will give you four to six weeks to leave the property; you may be allowed to ask the court for extra time, but this will be at the court’s discretion.
Moving out – illegal eviction
Only bailiffs can evict you physically from the property, not your landlord. If he or she does this, it is a serious offence.
If you have not left after the possession order has ended, then you will be issued with a bailiff’s warrant. This means the bailiffs can physically remove you from the property if you have not moved out by the expiry date on the warrant.
There are occasions when a different notice can be served. In certain circumstances, you may be issued with a two-week notice to leave the property, even if you have a fixed term tenancy. This might be because:
- You are late paying rent
- You are in rent arrears
- The property is mortgaged and your landlord’s lender is repossessing the property
- Your landlord thinks the condition of the property is worsening while you are in occupation
- There are complaints about anti-social behaviour
When the notice period has ended, your landlord can follow a similar court eviction process if you have not left. This means evidence will be presented to the court relating to the reason for eviction. If the court is satisfied with this information, then a possession order will be issued.
If you are still in the property after this time, your landlord will request a bailiff’s warrant. This will give you seven to ten days to leave the property. It is important to have left before the bailiff warrant ends because then you no longer have any legal right to remain in the property, and they are authorised by the court to physically remove you from the property.
You may be able to ask a court to stop or delay an eviction – but you will need to do this straight away.