How to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

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If you are a landlord, it is important to know the correct regulations and procedures when it comes to evicting (or attempting to evict a tenant) from the start of the tenancy. This helps to ensure you can seek possession if required.

Landlords of Assured Shorthold Tenancies have various responsibilities. In this blog, our property litigation solicitors explain what these are.

What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is the most common type of tenancy, and it is likely that any new private tenancy will automatically be an AST.

Most ASTs start with a fixed-term agreement, e.g. for one year, and at the end of this term, the landlord and tenant can agree on a new fixed term or the tenancy can become a rolling tenancy.

An AST can be put in place without an agreement and in these circumstances, terms are implied, i.e. not expressly set out in a contract. A written tenancy agreement provides certainty and would include additional terms.

How do you end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

If a landlord wishes to end an AST, they will need to serve the tenant with either a section 21 notice or a section 8 notice, or both if necessary.

Section 21 notice

A section 21 notice starts the legal process for a landlord to end an AST and can be served to a tenant without a landlord being required to give any reason as to why they are seeking possession. A section 21 notice is also known as a ‘no–fault’ eviction.

A section 21 notice must provide at least two months’ notice and must expire after the fixed term. A section 21 notice must be given in the prescribed form.

In addition, several requirements must be met to ensure a section 21 notice is valid. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The landlord has protected (within the required timescales) a tenant’s deposit in a Deposit Protection Scheme
  • Tenancy documentation such as annual gas safety certificates, an energy performance certificate (EPC) and the Government’s ‘How to rent’ checklist must have been provided.

There are various other requirements, therefore, if you’re unsure about serving a section 21 notice, you should seek legal advice from a specialist property litigation solicitor.

Section 8 notice

A section 8 notice is a separate form of notice for seeking possession. It is used when a landlord has a reason for requesting possession, such as the tenant being in breach of their tenancy. The most common reasons are rent arrears and damage to the property.

A section 8 notice can be served within the fixed term of an AST and must detail the grounds for seeking possession (set out in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988).

The grounds are split between:

  • Mandatory: if the court is satisfied that the ground/s for seeking possession is met, the court must grant possession; and
  • Discretionary: where the court has the capability to grant possession.

For a section 8 notice to be valid, landlords must give the notice in writing to the tenant using the prescribed form.

The notice period of a section 8 notice varies from two weeks to two months, depending on the ground/s relied upon.

What happens if a tenant does not vacate the property?

If, following the expiry of a notice seeking possession, the tenant does not leave the property, the landlord must apply for a possession order from the Courts.

If possession is obtained without an order from the Court, it may count as an unlawful eviction, which is both a criminal and civil offence.

There are two types of possession proceedings: accelerated possession proceedings and standard possession proceedings. If you are a landlord who needs help with possession proceedings, our property litigation lawyers can discuss both options with you and assist with the drafting and issuing of court proceedings.

Other types of tenancy

Tenancies which are not an AST may include arrangements where:

  • No rent is payable, or very low rent is paid;
  • The tenancy relates to business use;
  • The property is a holiday let;
  • The property is a short-term let;
  • The landlord also lives at the property; and/or
  • The tenancy started before 1997.

If you believe you have been granted a tenancy which is not an AST or you are unsure, our specialist landlord solicitors can advise you on the status of occupation, and the options available in respect of any request for possession.

Contact our specialist landlord solicitors in Bristol

We advise landlords across the UK from our offices in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. If you need help with seeking possession of a let property or any other property-related matter, call our property litigation solicitors on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.


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