This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

Basic principles

This content applies to England

Basic principles applicable to possession proceedings after notice has been served and the notice period has expired.

Outline of procedure

The procedure that a landlord seeking to regain possession of a rented property must follow, after the period of the notice served on the tenant/licensee has expired, includes five stages: 

If the correct procedure is not followed at any stage, it may be possible to prevent or delay the eviction. 

This procedure does not apply to landlords of tenants/licensees who are excluded occupiers.

Scope of the possession proceedings section

This section reflects the rules applicable to standard possession claims regulated under Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules. 

It does not cover:

Grounds for possession

One of the general features of the possession procedure is the requirement on the landlord to establish a ground(s) for possession. There are notable exceptions, including when possession is sought of:

Grounds for possession can be mandatory or discretionary. When the ground is proven, the court must:

  • make a possession order when the landlord is using a mandatory ground (save where there is a public law, human rights or disability discrimination defence)
  • only make a possession order when the landlord is using a discretionary ground if it is reasonable (see below) to do so.

The particular grounds that can be relied upon depend upon the occupier's status. For more information see the relevant pages within the Security of tenure section.

Reasonableness

'Reasonable' means having regard to all the relevant circumstances of the case in possession claims involving a discretionary ground. 

The role of the court is to consider the impact of granting a possession order (or not) on these respective interests. What the court chooses to consider will depend upon the particular facts of the case, but could include:

  • length of time the tenant has lived in the property
  • breaches of earlier agreements or court orders 
  • health and age of the tenant and her/his household 
  • respective financial position of the landlord and tenant 
  • conduct of the tenant and her/his willingness to remedy any breach 
  • in cases of antisocial behaviour, the wider effects of the nuisance or annoyance caused.

Related information

This section should be read in conjunction with the more specific information given on the: 

  • possession proceedings applicable to individual types of occupier, within the section on Security of tenure
  • requirements that must be satisfied for a notice to be valid when served in relation to ending a tenancy/licence, within the section on Notices
  • court process, within the section on Courts and legal action.

Back to top