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Introduction to grounds for possession

This content applies to England

The court cannot make an order for possession unless the landlord proves that s/he has a ground (or reason) for possession.

The grounds that can be used are set out in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 (though ground 14A can only be used by social landlords). They are divided into eight mandatory and 10 discretionary grounds.

Social landlords should follow the Pre-action Protocol for Possession Cases by Social Landlords before pursuing possession proceedings

Mandatory grounds

If the landlord seeks possession on any of the mandatory grounds and can prove to the court the existence of the ground, the court will usually order outright possession: see the Mandatory grounds page for further information.

It may be possible in some circumstances to persuade the court to adjourn for a brief period.[1] However, it has been decided that it is not legitimate to adjourn a ground 8 possession claim to enable a tenant to reduce arrears below the eight-week threshold, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Arrears attributable to maladministration on the part of a housing benefit authority are not considered to be an exceptional circumstance.[2]

Discretionary grounds

If the landlord seeks possession on one of the discretionary grounds, s/he must prove to the court that it is reasonable for the court to grant possession. The court has wide powers of adjournment in cases involving discretionary grounds. However, when considering claims for possession brought on grounds of antisocial behaviour, the court must ensure that sufficient weight is given to the effects of any antisocial behaviour.[3]

The grounds apply to all assured and assured shorthold tenancies.

Discrimination

It is unlawful for a person managing any premises to discriminate against a person with a 'relevant protected characteristic' (ie disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief) by evicting them. From 1 October 2010, the Equality Act 2010 incorporates all previous anti-discrimination provisions into a single Act and simplifies the law to make it easier to tackle discrimination and inequality. Transitional arrangements prescribe the situations in which the legislation repealed or revoked by the Act still applies. For further information on the new Act and how it works see the Equality law section.

More information about transitional arrangements is in the Equality Act 2010: implementation dates page.

For information in relation to disabled tenants see the Disability discrimination page.

[1] CCR Order 49:6A, as amended by Civil Procedure (Amendment No.4) Rules 2000 SI 2000/ 2092.

[2] North British Housing Association v Matthews [2004] EWCA Civ 1736

[3] s.9A Housing Act 1988, as inserted by s.16 Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.

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