Partners and Suppliers Jack Vlasto 06/07/2023

Lawfully gaining possession and the financial help available

Jack Vlasto, of NRLA partner Rentguard Landlord Insurance, shares an overview of lawfully gaining possession.

In many situations, eviction is an absolute last resort for landlords; no landlord wants to remove people from their home. But sometimes circumstances mean a landlord has little or no choice. For example perhaps you are an accidental landlord who is now looking to move into or sell the property you inherited. Personal circumstances, such as relationship break-ups or money worries, may also necessitate you wanting to leave the buy-to-let market.

In most cases though, you will usually only need to end a tenancy if your tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy agreement. For example, they are in rent arrears, have damaged the property or there have been complaints of continued anti-social behaviour.

Evicting tenants can involve a complex legal process that may vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. In some cases, you may need to seek legal advice.

Having legal expenses and rent guarantee insurance can help with this financial burden.

Here’s an overview of evicting tenants fairly and legally in England.

How do I lawfully gain possession?

The type of notice required will depend on the reason for eviction and the type of tenancy agreement in place.

Depending on the circumstances, before initiating eviction proceedings, landlords would ideally give tenants an opportunity to address the problem. If the tenant fails to comply or vacate the premises, the landlord can then file for an eviction in court.
In most cases, landlords must serve a written notice to their tenants stating the reason for eviction and the date by which they must vacate the property. 

As the law stands at the moment, if you’re looking to notify your tenant that you’d like them to leave your property you can serve either a Section 21 or Section 8 notice under the Housing Act 1988.

For example, if the tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, a Section 8 notice may be required, whereas a Section 21 notice may be required for a no-fault eviction.

If the tenant fails to vacate the property by the date specified in the notice, the landlord may need to apply to the court for an eviction order. 

What is a Section 21 notice?

A Section 21 notice is a way of taking back possession of your property at the end of a fixed term tenancy agreement or to trigger a break clause. With a Section 21 notice, you don’t need to give a reason to claim repossession but you must give your tenants no less than two months’ notice (you may need to give a longer notice period if you have a ‘contractual’ periodic tenancy) and it must be in writing using a 6a form Section 21 notice.

However, Section 21 is set to be scrapped as part of sweeping government reforms to the buy-to-let sector. The Renters Reform Bill and private rented sector white paper was part of the Conservative Manifesto 2019 but its introduction to parliament was delayed by the Covid pandemic. Under the proposals, Section 21 evictions are set to be abolished and replaced by “a simpler, more secure tenancy structure”.

What is a Section 8 notice?

In England a Section 8 notice is a legal notice served by a landlord to their tenant to seek possession of the property. It is used when the tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement, such as by not paying rent, causing damage to the property, or engaging in anti-social behaviour.

The Section 8 notice specifies the grounds for possession, which are usually based on the provisions set out in the Housing Act 1988. The notice must give the tenant at least two weeks' notice to vacate the property, although this may be longer if the tenant has a fixed-term tenancy agreement.

If the tenant disputes the eviction notice, you may end up in court where you will need to lay out your reason for wanting to terminate the agreement and provide evidence for these reasons.

What if the tenant refuses to leave?

If you served a Section 21 notice, there is a tenancy agreement in writing, and you’re not seeking to claim any unpaid rent, you can apply for an accelerated possession order. This may be quicker and can avoid a court hearing, although a court fee does need to be paid before proceedings can take place.

Should you wish to claim rent arrears and get your property back, and have served a Section 8 or 21 notice, you can use a standard possession order.

If the possession claim has been served and the tenant still refuses to vacate the property, you will need to apply for a warrant for possession, which means the County Court Bailiff can evict your tenants.

How suitable insurance can help 

Legal expenses and rent guarantee insurance can ease the financial burden of evictions and the costs incurred when tenants default on rental payments. As a landlord, it can help with some of the risks associated with renting out a property.

With suitable insurance, you can gain financial help to get back on your feet after a stressful ordeal retrieving defaulted rent payments and removing unreliable tenants from your property.


Help is at hand – get in touch with Rentguard.

With vast experience handling insurance policies for a wide range of landlords, and with relationships with a number of leading insurers, Rentguard Insurance aims to simplify your insurance arrangements and help to protect your property, its contents, and your liabilities.

Get a quote online or speak to our specialist team on 0333 000 0169.

The sole purpose of this article is to provide information on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Rentguard and National Residential Landlords Association, an Introducer Appointed Representative of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.

National Residential Landlords Association is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered Office: Spectrum Building, 7th Floor, 55 Blythswood Street, Glasgow, G2 7AT. Registered in Scotland. Company Number: SC108909. Rentguard is a trading name of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited.