In the event a landlord wishes to recover possession of their property from an assured shorthold tenancy immediately, they may have recourse to Accelerated Possession Proceedings. These proceedings are not attributed to fault on part of the tenant, and do not require a court hearing before being granted. As such, there are a number of procedural hurdles that the landlord must overcome.
Accelerated Possession Proceedings are started by application to the relevant county court and payment of the mandatory fee. The application must be accompanied by a witness statement and the tenancy agreement. There must also be evidence that the landlord has served a Section 21 Notice on the tenant and has placed the tenant’s deposit in a licensed tenancy deposit scheme.
As of 2015, the landlord must also provide evidence that the tenant was served with:
- a current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC);
- a copy of a current Gas Safety Certificate; and
- a copy of the current version of the “How to Rent Guide” issued by the UK Government.
On approval, service will be made upon the tenant by the court. With service, a tenant will be notified of their right to object to the proceedings within 14 days.
No reasons have to be provided by the landlord for the eviction other than the agreed fixed term has come to an end.
Grounds for objection
A tenant can only object to Accelerated Possession Proceedings on the following grounds:
- the Section 21 Notice is defective on its face, or lacks one of the requisite accompanying documents; or
- they did not receive service.
Once the 14-day period has expired, the court will consider whether a court hearing may be warranted. Otherwise, the court will issue an order for possession. If the court does consider a hearing is necessary, a successful challenge by the tenant may result in a suspension of any possession order, or dismissal of the case altogether. If the case is dismissed, the landlord will have to start the proceedings again, subject to the two months’ notice period.
A Section 21 Notice cannot be served if prior to service the landlord had failed to respond to a complaint about the condition of the property and the relevant local authority had served a Section 11, 12 or 40(7) Notice on the landlord.
Fixed term contracts and Accelerated Possession Proceedings
As a general rule, a landlord cannot seek eviction prior to the agreed end date of a fixed term tenancy agreement, and in any event must give at least two months’ notice before the anticipated date for recovering possession. It is possible to serve notice at the same time the tenant initially signs the tenancy agreement. In order to qualify for an Accelerated Possession Proceeding, the landlord must have granted an assured shorthold tenancy.
Assured shorthold tenancies
Under the Housing Acts 1996, a landlord has a mandatory right of repossession when an assured shorthold tenancy comes to the end of its fixed period. If the term is for less than six months, the right of repossession cannot be exercised until a six-month period has passed. For an assured shorthold tenancy to be recognised for the purpose of proceedings, there must be a written agreement in existence that commenced no earlier than 15 January 1989. If the tenancy commenced prior to 28 February 1997, there must be evidence the tenant was informed they were entering into an assured shorthold tenancy.
The first six months of an assured shorthold tenancy are protected from any Accelerated Possession Proceedings. The landlord must serve a Section 21 Notice upon the tenant, at a minimum of two months prior to the anticipated date for recovering possession, which cannot occur within the initial six-month period.
If the court concludes a hearing is not warranted, the possession order issued will provide a tenant between 14 and 28 days to surrender the premises. The judge has discretion to increase this period to a maximum of 42 days if an earlier date would subject the tenant to unnecessary hardship.
If the tenant has not vacated the premises by the date provided on the possession order, the landlord will seek a warrant for eviction and a court bailiff will physically evict the tenant. The process for applying for a bailiff will typically take between two to three weeks.
There is an expedited enforcement procedure offered via the High Court, where a data for eviction can be obtained within a few days.
Accelerated Possession Proceedings do not facilitate recovery of rent arrears. A landlord will have to seek alternative court action in order to recover sums owed, including small claims or fault-based possession proceedings. A court has no power to order rent to be paid during the notice period in an Accelerated Possession Proceeding.
If the tenancy began on or after 1 October 2015, Accelerated Possession Proceedings cannot be used in retaliation to a tenant who has lodged a complaint about the condition of the property. This is known as the “retaliatory eviction” rule. The rule will not apply if the property has been placed on the market for sale or if the tenant has violated a condition of their tenancy agreement.
Contact our Property Solicitors Mayfair and throughout London Today
Accelerated Possession Proceedings are a means of a landlord avoiding lengthy and costly possession proceedings in court. It is paramount that the requirements of a Section 21 Notice are met, as failure to do so may result in dismissal of the application and the landlord having to revert back to square one.
The Property Lawyers at Lewis Nedas Law have specialist knowledge in both commercial and residential property disputes. With offices in Camden and Mayfair, we provide advice to clients across Central, West and North London, as well as the wider UK.