Notice to leave and eviction from student accommodation
During your tenancy there are a number of problems that may arise. There are set procedures with how to deal with them, which we have briefly covered in this section. As a tenant, you should be aware of what your landlord can and cannot do under the lease. Generally the landlord will have to serve a notice on you if he/she wants you to leave the property. This means that you will be given a certain notice period to find alternative accommodation.
Threats of Eviction
If your Landlord threatens you with eviction, the best course of action is to seek legal advice immediately. It is illegal for Landlords to evict tenants by using methods such as changing locks while they are out, physically throwing them out, or preventing tenants getting into part of or their entire home. If this happens call the police.
Landlords can be exceptionally cautious and are unlikely to rent to people who may cause anti-social behaviour. Depending on the circumstances you could be evicted for anti-social behaviour. This may be from noise, violence, drug use, harassment or threats.
Grounds for Eviction
The following grounds may be used by the landlord as reasons to evict you:
- you owe at least two months’ rent; or have been consistently behind with paying your rent.
- you have breached one or more of your obligations under your lease.
- you, your sub-tenant or anyone else living at the accommodation or your behaviour has caused the condition of the accommodation to deteriorate This could also be due to detrimental actions by a pet or visitor.
- you, a sub-tenant or a visitor has been guilty of conduct which has caused, or is likely to cause, a nuisance or annoyance to the neighbours, or has been convicted of using the property or allowing it to be used for immoral or illegal purposes, or has committed an arrestable offence in or near the property.
- The condition of the furniture, fixtures, cabinets or other fittings in the accommodation has deteriorated, because it has been ill-treated by the tenant, his sub-tenant, or someone else living there or visiting.
- The landlord formerly lived in, or intends to live in, the property as his or her only or principal home.
- The mortgage lender is claiming possession of the property.
- The landlord intends to redevelop the property.
- The landlord has made suitable alternative accommodation available.
- The landlord granted the lease by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by the tenant.
Notice to leave
Landlords must follow certain procedures to evict you. The first step your Landlord has to take is to ask you to leave, which is usually done via a written notice in which the landlord serves notice of their intention to seek possession of the property.
This may of course be mutually beneficial, as you may well be wishing to find alternative accommodation. If, however, you think the landlord is being unduly unfair or unlawfully trying to evict you, you should seek legal advice at this point and speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The written notice served by the landlord must comply with several specific requirements set out in the law. This is a complicated area and you should always seek expert legal advice.
The written notice served by the landlord must:
- Be of a specific length of time.
- State the date that your landlord wants you to leave.
- Give reasons why you are being asked to leave (if applicable).
- Contain specific information such as where you can get advice (if applicable).
- For most types of tenants there are rules about how long your landlord has to give you before you have to leave and when the notice can be given.
The following sets out the Possession Notices Procedure:
- The Landlord issues the tenant with a S.8 notice which will give reasons why the Landlord is seeking repossession.
- The Tenant has 14 days to respond.
- Failure to respond means that the landlord can apply to the county court for a possession order.
- In the absence of any contact or response from the tenant the Court will issue a possession order in the landlords favour.
- The Tenant will then have to leave the property within a given period of time.
- If the Tenant does not vacate the property the landlord can apply to the court for a bailiff to evict them.
- Any outstanding monies may be recovered by a Bailiff who could take the Tenants possessions to clear the outstanding debt.
In some cases landlords do not have to give written notice before you have to leave. This normally only applies to people who share accommodation with their landlord or who are living in their accommodation on a very temporary basis.
If you haven’t left by the time the notice expires, then the landlord will usually have to apply for an order from the county court telling you to leave, which is known as a possession order. In most cases the tenants are entitled to stay in their accommodation until a possession order takes effect. In some cases, landlords may be able to get a possession order automatically, but in some cases they may need to prove a reason to the court.
If you share accommodation with your landlord, then you can be evicted without them having to get a court order, however you should still be given written notice to leave the property.
Your landlord is entitled to arrange for a bailiff to evict you if you haven’t left by the date outlined by the courts. Bailiffs are employed by the court, and you will receive a letter from the court saying when the bailiffs will arrive. They can physically remove you and your belongings from the property, however they must not use violence or unreasonable force in doing so.
In some cases you may be able to apply to the court to stop the bailiffs from evicting you, but you should get specialist advice immediately if you want to do this.
Nobody other than a bailiff acting for the county court is allowed to physically remove you from the accommodation, and should anyone else attempt to do this they may be illegally trying to evict you. If this happens you should seek legal advice immediately.
Notice to Quit
Under this procedure, the Landlord can only obtain possession of the property at the end of the assured short hold tenancy. A possession order using this procedure can be for any reason and is valid providing the correct legal procedure is followed.
The Landlord must serve a written S.21 notice on the tenant at anytime during the tenancy stating intention to obtain possession at the end of the tenancy providing a minimum of two months notice.
A tenant wants to leave
Depending on the lease, students are not generally entitled to end the tenancy early unless they have strong cases to do so, such as:
- Serious breach of the agreement by the Landlord.
- There is a clause in the lease allowing tenants to leave early.
- The landlord voluntarily releases the tenant from the lease.
If none of these conditions apply, and you as a tenant do move out before the end of the contract, you will be liable for the rent until the end of the contract, or until another tenant takes your place.
However, remember that if one of your housemates decides to move out, you may be liable to pay the remaining rent. So, make sure you check this in your lease and all house-mates make an effort to find a new tenant as quickly as possible. The Tenant has to find a replacement and the landlord ought not unreasonably refuse suggestion.
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