Landlords are well aware that obtaining possession of their properties could sometimes involve a difficult and somewhat confusing process. Most tenancies issued today are Assured Tenancies. The laws governing the repossession of assured tenancies are contained in the Housing Act 1988. Specifically, Schedule 2 of the 1988 Act sets out the grounds on which landlords may seek possession of their property.
Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 can broadly be divided into mandatory and discretionary grounds for possession. There are about 17 grounds for possession. Grounds one to eight are contained in Part 1 of the Schedule 2 and are considered as mandatory grounds for possession. If a landlord meets the strict requirements of a mandatory ground and has properly complied with the correct procedure then the court must make an order for possession against the tenant and in favour of the landlord. Grounds 9 to 17 are the discretionary grounds for possession. The discretionary grounds can be found in Part 2 of the Schedule — they give a court broad discretionary powers to make an order for possession. It is often more difficult to convince judges to exercise their discretion to make an order for possession against a tenant. Thus, when possible, you should proceed under one or more mandatory grounds which will entitle you to an order for possession against the tenant, provided you have complied with the prescribed procedures. This article focuses on the mandatory grounds for possession.
Mandatory Ground 1 — This ground may be used where a landlord permitted a tenant to live in the landlord’s property. At the beginning of the tenancy, the landlord informed the tenant in writing that the landlord may rely on this ground in seeking possession of the property. Further, the landlord may proceed under this ground for possession if the landlord seeks possession of the property in order to make the property their home and the landlord gave notice at the beginning of the arrangement that they may seek possession on this basis.
Mandatory Ground 2 — If prior to the commencement of the tenancy the property was subject to a mortgage and the mortgage company now wants to sell the property for any valid reason, then the landlord may seek possession in order to allow the mortgage company sell a vacant property.
Mandatory Ground 3 — A landlord may seek possession of their property where the property was occupied by the tenant for the purpose of a holiday, and the tenant was given a tenancy for a fixed term of no more than eight months. In order to rely on this ground, the landlord is required to have given a written notice to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy confirming that possession of the property may be sought under this ground.
Mandatory Ground 4 — This ground deals with student lettings. A landlord may seek possession under this ground if the landlord granted a tenancy to students for a period of 12 months or less. In order to rely on this ground for possession, the landlord must have informed the students in writing at the beginning of the tenancy that possession may be sought under this ground.
Mandatory Ground 5 — According to ground 5, a court must make an order for possession if the court is satisfied that the property is used for the purposes of providing accommodation for a minister of religion. In order to be successful under this ground the landlord must have given the tenant a written notice at the beginning of the tenancy stating that possession may be sought under this ground.
Mandatory Ground 6 — Landlords may seek possession under this ground if they can show that they intend to demolish the building or carry out substantial works and those works cannot reasonably be carried out while the tenant remains in occupation of the property. The key point here is that the work to be carried out is “substantial”.
Mandatory Ground 7 — This ground deals with tenancies that pass under a will or intestacy of the former tenant. A landlord may bring possession proceedings against the tenant if the tenancy is a fixed term or statutory periodic tenancy. Under this ground, the landlord is required to seek possession of the property within twelve months after the death of the former tenant.
Mandatory Ground 7A — Under this ground a landlord may seek possession of the property if the tenant or the tenant’s visitors have been convicted of a serious offence and the offence was committed in the property or in the locality of the property. There are several conditions that must be satisfied in order to successfully obtain possession under this ground. Please contact us if you have evidence that your tenant may have committed a serious offence or the tenant is subject to a court injunction.
Mandatory Ground 7B — As a landlord, you may seek possession of your property if you have been notified by relevant authorities that the tenant is not entitled to a tenancy due to their immigration status.
Mandatory Ground 8 — This ground deals with rent arrears. A landlord is entitled to a possession order if the landlord can prove that the tenant has failed to pay rent for at least eight weeks if rent is payable weekly. If rent is payable quarterly then the landlord must prove that at least one quarter’s rent (which must be the equivalent of at least three months’ rent) remains unpaid. In relation to rent payable monthly, this ground requires that at least two months’ rent is unpaid. For rent payable yearly, the landlord must prove that at least three months’ rent is unpaid.
Please contact us if none of the mandatory grounds mentioned above applies to your situation and we will be happy to advise you. We can also advise on discretionary grounds for possession.