Most private tenants can only be evicted if their landlord follows the correct legal procedures. These usually start when your landlord gives you notice that you have to leave.
Does a landlord have to give written notice?
Most tenants are entitled to a written notice to leave a property even if your landlord did not give you a written agreement to live there in the first place.
The main exception to this is if you share living accommodation such as a kitchen or bathroom with your landlord. This means you are probably an excluded occupier. In this situation the landlord only has to verbally ask you to leave.
A notice has to include certain information
The information that has to be included in the notice varies depending on the type of tenancy you have. The information that is required may include:
- your name and address
- your landlord's name and address
- the date you have to leave
- the reason your landlord is evicting you (if required)
- information about where you can get advice
Restrictions on when a landlord can give notice
When you can be given the notice depends on the reason your landlord is evicting you and the type of tenancy you have.
If you have a fixed-term tenancy (for a set period, such as six months) the landlord can give you notice any time but it cannot take effect until the end of that fixed period unless:
- they can prove a legal reason (or 'ground for possession') to evict you, or
- there is a 'break clause' in your tenancy agreement that allows this
Your landlord can give you notice any time if you have a periodic tenancy (one which runs from week to week, or month to month).
When you have to leave
The notice must specify a time by which your landlord wants you to leave. There are rules about the earliest this can be. The notice period depends on the type of tenancy you have and the reason why your landlord is evicting you.
You can leave on this date or if you don't have anywhere else to go you can stay until your landlord gets a possession order from the court.
Notice for an assured shorthold tenancy
If you are an assured shorthold tenant, the rules on how much notice you are entitled to vary according to if:
- you have a 'fixed-term' tenancy (ie for a set period of time such as six months)
- you have a 'periodic' tenancy (ie rolling from month to month)
- the landlord needs to prove a legal reason for the eviction (often called 'grounds for possession')
Landlords of assured shorthold tenants can evict tenants without having to prove a ground for possession. They do this by giving at least two months' notice. This procedure is sometimes called the 'shorthold ground' or a 'section 21 eviction'. If you have a fixed-term tenancy the notice cannot come into effect before the fixed-term has ended.
If your landlord wants to evict you for a legal reason, you are entitled to either two months' or two weeks' notice, depending on the reasons for the eviction. However If your landlord wants to evict you because of serious antisocial behaviour the notice can take effect immediately.
If you paid a deposit the shorthold ground for eviction can usually only be used if your landlord has put your deposit into a UK Government-backed deposit protection scheme and given you the required information about the scheme being used.
Notice for an assured tenancy
If you are an assured tenant your landlord must give either two months' or two weeks' notice depending on the reason you are being evicted. However If your landlord wants to evict you because of serious antisocial behaviour the notice can take effect immediately.
Notice for a regulated tenancy
If you are a regulated tenant your landlord must normally give you a written 'notice to quit' that does not expire for at least 28 days, and
- ends on a day that your rent is due
- explains your landlord must get a court order before you have to leave
- contains information about where you can get advice
Your landlord also needs a legal reason to evict you.
Notice if you are an occupier with basic protection
If you are an occupier with basic protection the length of notice your landlord must give depends on how often you pay your rent. If you pay rent weekly you must be given four weeks' notice. If you pay monthly you must be given one months' notice. If you pay rent quarterly you must be given three months' notice.
The notice must also:
- end on a day that your rent is due
- explain your landlord must get a court order before you have to leave
- contain information about where you can get advice
If you share with your landlord
Excluded occupiers (such as people who share facilities with their landlord) are only entitled to 'reasonable' notice. This does not have to be in writing.
Find out more about the eviction of excluded occupiers. Get advice immediately if you are asked to leave.
Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.
After a notice period ends
Unless you are an excluded occupier you don't have to leave until the landlord gets a possession order from the court.
Get advice as soon as you can if you receive a letter from your landlord asking you to leave. An adviser can check if you have to leave immediately. You should find out if you can do anything (such as pay off your rent arrears) to prevent your landlord evicting you. If you can do this you aren't usually expected to pay your landlord's court costs. Talk to an adviser if you want to stay after your notice ends.
Your landlord can apply to court for a possession order as soon as the notice ends. If this happens the court will contact you.