Residential Property Disputes

The most common type of residential tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Most private tenants will have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

The most common type of residential tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Most private tenants will have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

It is a criminal offence to seek to evict the occupiers from a dwelling other than by obtaining an order of the court. It is also an offence to harass occupiers of a dwelling with a view to coercing them to leave.

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Options available to landlords seeking to remove tenants are:

Section 21 Accelerated Procedure

If the fixed term of the tenancy has expired or there is an operable break clause, you may give the tenants two months’ notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 that you require possession of the property.

If the tenants do not vacate before the notice expires, we can apply to court for an order for possession.

If the tenants do not dispute the claim, the Court will make an order which requires them to give possession. The tenants may apply to suspend possession by up to six weeks, if they can show that they will suffer exceptional hardship.

It is not possible to claim arrears of rent in proceedings under the Accelerated Procedure.

The advantage of this procedure is that the court will usually deal with the application without the need for a hearing, saving time and costs.

The average time from issuing the claim to the date of possession order is six to eight weeks.

Section 8 Procedure

If the fixed term of the tenancy has not come to an end, or the matter is otherwise not suitable for the accelerated procedure, you can obtain possession under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. The basis for possession will depend on the facts of each case but can include rent arrears or other breaches of the tenancy.

A notice must be served, the period for which will depend on the grounds on which possession is sought.

This procedure will involve a court hearing.

The time from issuing the claim to the date of possession can vary wildly depending on the issuing court, the conduct of the tenant and the circumstances of each case. An average estimate is between 12 weeks to 6 months.


Regardless of the procedure used, if the tenants do not move out of the property by the date ordered by the court, it will be necessary to instruct either the County Court Bailiffs or High Court Enforcement Officers to take possession.

If the tenants are looking to be re-housed by the local council, it is likely the council will not rehouse them until they receive notice that the bailiffs have been instructed to take possession.

The average wait for a County Court Bailiff appointment is eight weeks. The average wait for High Court Enforcement is seven days.

Rent arrears

You cannot claim any arrears of rent in proceedings under the Accelerated Procedure. You may issue a separate money claim for the arrears.

A claim for rent arrears can be included in a claim under section 8.

However, unless you know where the tenants work or that they have assets against which you can enforce a judgment, they are likely to be difficult to recover and it may not be cost effective to try. Once tenants have left the property they are frequently difficult, if not impossible to trace, so similarly it is likely that you will not be able to recover any legal costs which the court may order the tenants to pay.

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Frequently asked questions

If you're in dispute with your landlord and you do not wish to go to court or tribunal, there is always an alternative in negotiations. This is often the first port of call between parties in any dispute and can often be the simplest and most straightforward way of dealing with the dispute. However, it will require both parties' co-operation.

You can claim rent arrears from your tenant. You can't do this under the section 21 accelerator procedure, but you can do this under section 8. We need to determine the level of the rent arrears and then we can advise you how to take it forward from there.

If your paperwork isn't in order, you can still bring a claim against your tenant and attempt to evict them. You're unable to use the section 21 accelerated procedure, but we still potentially can bring a claim against your tenant under section 8.

An AST is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This is the general form of tenancy that most residential tenants will have. If you do not have a written tenancy with your landlord then an AST will be implied by the law.

As a landlord, your rights are quite restricted by the law. A particular point that you need to look out for are unlawful evictions, and also charging your tenant unlawful fees. The best way to go about it is to seek advice from a solicitor or a reputable letting agent at the outset, so you know what your rights are.

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Dispute Resolution Team

Head of Dispute Resolution

Holly Minney

Holly is a Member and Head of Mullis and Peake’s Dispute Resolution Department

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Martyn Trenerry

Martyn ​is our Chairman and the firms' Compliance Officer for Legal Practice

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Esther Marshall

​Esther is a Member and works in our Dispute Resolution team 

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