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Successful possession claim defence

Expert Advice consultancy case study


Shelter's Expert Advice service assisted an advice agency worker whose client was going to be evicted after time abroad caring for a sick relative.

We explained the process a landlord must follow when seeking possession and a tenant's defences against possession. The client was successful in their defence.

The situation

An advice agency worker contacted the expert advice service about their client, a single person living in a private rented property with an assured shorthold tenancy.

The client contacted the advice agency after being served possession court papers relating to a possession claim for their home. Their landlord had given then a section 21 notice eight months earlier.

The client had been abroad caring for a sick relative and returned home facing the prospect of eviction. The possession paperwork mentioned some rent arrears.

Our advice

The expert adviser gathered information, discussed the case in detail with the agency and explained the process for a landlord seeking possession of a property. They considered potential defences to a possession claim, including:

  • the time limits to start possession proceedings after the issue of a section 21 notice

  • a landlord's breach of tenancy deposit protection rules

The adviser explained the rules about the accuracy of claimed rent arrears in case the landlord tried to serve a section 8 notice when challenged on the validity of the section 21 notice. 

The expert adviser suggested that due to the lack of clarity in the case it would be beneficial for the client to seek legal representation in court.

The outcome

The client was successful in their defence of the possession claim.

The landlord was ordered to pay costs and carry out outstanding repairs on the property. There were in fact no rent arrears and the client was in credit on their rent account.

Further resources

Shelter Legal

Section 21 notices for assured shorthold tenancies - when a landlord can use a section 21 notice, the notice period, and how they must serve the notice

Shelter advice for the public

Shelter's advice pages for the public are clear, accurate and easy to understand. Pages can be printed and shared by email.

Eviction for rent arrears - the stages of the eviction process and practical advice for tenants

Our free Expert Advice Service gives specialist advice on housing, housing debt, and welfare benefit issues. 

In this section, we highlight relevant enquiries about benefits, possession, domestic violence and other issues.