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When the Housing Act 1988 first came into force, it implemented a minimum term of six months for Assured Tenancies. Under s21(recovery of possession on expiry of assured shorthold tenancy) it also created what is known as ‘accelerated possession’ where there is ‘no fault’ on the part of the landlord and ‘no fault’ on the tenant either.

Between January 1989 and February 1997, nearly all new private lettings (whether by a private landlord or a Registered Social Landlord) were classed as Assured Tenancies and only 2 months notice needed to be given by the landlord. The protections under the Rent Act 1977 were removed, controlled tenancies were converted into regulated tenancies, and rent controls were removed for property let after 1988. Unless any alternative agreement at the start of the tenancy were made then they automatically defaulted to an Assured Tenancy.

Under Schedule 8 of the same Act (grounds for possession of dwelling houses under an Assured Tenancy) landlords were also provided a number of grounds which they could use to evict the tenant if they had committed a breach of the tenancy agreement.

The most common reason for landlords seeking possession is for rent arrears which is provided for by the following 3 grounds:

Ground 8 (mandatory) which is used when a tenant is more than two months in rent arrears. The landlord needs to give the tenant 14 days notice, before starting court action. For the purpose of this ground, ‘rent’ means ‘rent lawfully due from the tenant’. This ground is also changed by the Housing Act 1996 and arrears now must a) exceed 8 weeks if the rent is paid weekly or fortnightly, b) exceed 2 months if paid monthly, c) exceed one full quarter if paid quarterly or d) exceed 3 months if paid yearly. In each case the maximum arrears which can be accrued must exist both at the notice of proceedings and at the hearing itself.

Ground 10 (discretionary) may be used by the landlord if tenants are behind with the rent when the landlord served noticed seeking possession and were behind when court proceedings began. Notice of t least 2 weeks is required before starting court action. It is where some rent lawfully is due from the tenant which is: a: unpaid on the date on which the proceedings for possession are begun and; b: except where subsection 1(b) of s8 of the Act applies, was in arrears at the date of the service of the notice under that section relating to those proceedings. At least two weeks notice is required before court proceedings are started.

Ground 11 (discretionary) can be used where tenants have persistently provided late rent payments which are lawfully due and regardless of whether there are any arrears or not on the date on which the possession proceedings are started. At least 2 weeks notice is required before court proceedings are started.

Other grounds can be found here.

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