With housing policy devolved to the four nations of the UK, some of the regulations around letting property can vary significantly and the process for evicting a tenant is a great example of that.
Grounds for eviction, notice periods and even the notices themselves differ between the nations and we’ve had different temporary rules coming and going in each country through the pandemic. Now, even though things have only recently returned to ‘normal’, permanent changes to the eviction process will soon be made in Wales and England.
So, here’s a summary overview of the current eviction rules and what changes landlords need to prepare for in the coming months:
- If you want to evict a tenant who hasn’t breached their agreement Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), you can issue a Section 21, giving at least two months’ notice for them to leave – and you don’t have to give them a reason.
- A tenant can’t be evicted within a fixed term unless they’ve breached their agreement, but you can give notice within that term. So, if it’s a 12-month tenancy with a six-month break clause, you can serve a Section 21 any time up to the end of month four, requiring them to leave at the end of month six.
- If the tenant has breached their agreement, you can issue a Section 8 notice, which includes filling in the government’s Form 3, specifying the ground(s) on which you are evicting them. The notice period will vary depending on the ground, but it’s generally between 2 weeks and 2 months. If there has been illegal activity, no notice is required.
However, under the Renters’ Reform Bill, which is expected to progress through Parliament later this year, the Government intends to scrap Section 21, meaning landlords in England will no longer be able to evict tenants after the end of a fixed term without giving a specific reason. At the same time, to ensure landlords can still get their property back when needed, there are also plans to reform Section 8 to expand and strengthen the grounds for repossession.
See current government information on Section notices at the GOV.UK website.
The Section 21 and Section 8 notice procedures are currently the same as in England, until 15th July this year, when changes under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 come into force. At that point:
- The Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) will be replaced by an ‘occupation contract’ and ‘tenants’ will be known as ‘contract-holders’.
- Section 21 and Section 8 notices will be scrapped and replaced with similar alternatives.
- The two-month notice period for a ‘no fault’ eviction will be replaced by a six-month notice, and landlords won’t be able to give notice within the first six months of the contract. That effectively means an initial minimum 12-month contract commitment for landlords.
- If the contract-holder breaches their contract, landlords will have to give a month’s notice, unless the breach involves anti-social behaviour or serious rent arrears. In that case, the notice period can be shorter.
Further information about the upcoming changes is available at the Welsh Government website.
- To evict a tenant, you must issue them with a ‘Notice to Leave’ and at least one of the 18 grounds for eviction must apply – i.e. you can’t ask a tenant to leave without having a legally valid reason.
- If the tenant hasn’t breached their tenancy agreement, you must give them:
- At least 28 days’ notice if they’ve lived in the property for six months or less
- At least 84 days’ notice if they’ve lived in the property for more than six months.
- If the tenant has breached their tenancy agreement, you must give them 28 days’ notice.
See the mygov.scot website for more information on how to tell your tenant they need to leave your property.
- In all cases, if you want to evict a tenant, you must issue them with a notice to quit, in writing, with the notice period depending on the length of the tenancy:
- Five years or less – at least four weeks’ notice
- More than five years, up to ten years – at least eight weeks’ notice
- More than ten years – at least 12 weeks’ notice.
- You cannot issue a notice to quit during the initial term of the tenancy contract unless the tenant has breached the agreement.
More information is available at the nidirect website.
If you have any questions about ending a tenancy, we’re always here to help. Just get in touch with your local Reeds Rains branch and speak to one of the team.