Grounds for possession of assured tenancies during fixed term

The court can only make an order for possession against an assured tenant if the landlord proves there is reason for possession.

This content applies to England

Assured tenancies during fixed term

A landlord can apply for possession during the fixed term of an assured tenancy using any ground for possession in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 (though ground 14A can only be used by social landlords). 

An order for possession granted by a court during the fixed-term tenancy must expire after the end of the fixed-term period, unless:[1]

  • the landlord uses grounds 2, 7 (in England only), 7A, 7B, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, or 17

  • there is a clause in the tenancy agreement allowing it to be brought to an end in the circumstances specified in the ground.

Where ground 7B is used, the landlord does not need a specific clause in the tenancy.[2]

Forfeiture clauses

There is no case law that clarifies whether the clause in the tenancy agreement needs to specify the particular grounds, or whether a general clause will suffice, for example a clause that allows for the fixed term to be terminated if the rent is more than 14 days in arrears.

Although these clauses are often called forfeiture or re-entry clauses, they do not operate in the same way as in other forms of tenancy. This is because assured tenancies are excluded from the normal forfeiture provisions, with the result that there is no right to relief from forfeiture.[3] The forfeiture clause can therefore only be used if one of the grounds for possession allowable during the fixed term is to be used.

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.

It may be possible in some circumstances to persuade the court to adjourn for a brief period.[4] 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 benefit authority are not considered to be an exceptional circumstance.[5]

Discretionary grounds

If the landlord seeks possession on one of the discretionary grounds, they 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.

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.[6]

Discrimination

It is unlawful for a person managing any premises to discriminate against a person with a 'relevant protected characteristic' by evicting them. Protected characteristics include disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief. Since 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. For further information see Discrimination and housing.

Last updated: 24 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    s.7(6) Housing Act 1988, as amended by para.18(4), Sch.11, Anti-social behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.

  • [2]

    s.7(6)(b) Housing Act 1988 as amended by s.41(3)(d) Immigration Act 2016.

  • [3]

    s.45(4) Housing Act 1988.

  • [4]

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

  • [5]

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

  • [6]

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