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Initial steps of the accelerated procedure

If you are a landlord who has granted an assured shorthold tenancy, you are entitled to regain possession of your property under the provisions of the Housing Act 1988 at any time after the end of a fixed term tenancy, or sooner if a break clause has been used to end the tenancy early, or any time during a periodic tenancy, provided that the tenants have occupied the property for at least six months since the start of the first tenancy agreement.

This is commonly referred to as obtaining possession under the accelerated possession procedure.

You do not have to provide any other grounds for possession using this procedure.

What is the difference between fixed term and periodic?

a) A fixed term tenancy

A fixed term tenancy will be created for a specified length of time, for example, 12 months. However, if the tenants remain in the property after the fixed term has ended, and do not enter into a new fixed term agreement with you, the tenancy will automatically become periodic (see below).

b) A periodic tenancy

A periodic tenancy rolls on a specific period such as month to month or quarter to quarter. This arrangement may have been specified at the start of the tenancy or may have naturally arisen by the expiry of a fixed term tenancy.

First steps

The first step in the accelerated possession procedure is to correctly serve a section 21 notice. However, there are certain criteria which must be fulfilled that you should be aware of before you begin this procedure. These are described below.

Criteria that must be fulfilled

Before you can begin a claim using the accelerated possession procedure, you must ensure that:

1. You have a written assured shorthold tenancy agreement with the tenants and that stamp duty has been paid if the tenancy commenced before 1 December 2003. Tenancy agreements commencing after are exempt from paying stamp duty.

2. A notice has been served on the tenants under section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 giving the tenants an address in England & Wales where notices may be served. If the tenancy agreement includes such an address for the landlord, this requirement will be fulfilled.

3. If the first tenancy agreement with the tenants is dated between 15 January 1989 and 28 February 1997, a notice has been served on the tenants in accordance with section 20 of the Housing Act 1988 (a 'section 20 notice'). This notice must have been served on the tenants before the first tenancy commenced stating that it is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

4. A licence has been obtained, or applied for, if the property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) or is located in an area designated for licensing by the local authority.

5. Any deposit received after 6 April 2007 has been paid into a Government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.

6. If the first tenancy agreement was made on or after 28 February 1997, none of the tenants are employed in agriculture, whether full time or under a permit; otherwise the 'agricultural worker condition' defined in schedule 3 of the Housing Act 1988 may apply and legal advice should be taken before you proceed.

If any of the above requirements have not been met then a claim for possession under the accelerated procedure is unlikely to succeed. You are advised to seek legal advice if this is the case.

If the above criteria are fulfilled

Provided you meet the conditions listed above, you should proceed to correctly serve a notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. You can read more about this in our section on the section 21 notice.

If you have already served a section 21 notice, and the tenants have not left the property on the expiry of this notice, you may apply to the county court for an order requiring the tenants to vacate the property.

If the tenants are in arrears of rent

If you meet the conditions required to use the accelerated possession procedure, and your tenants are in arrears of rent, we generally recommend that you use the accelerated possession procedure. This way, you are able to get the tenants out as quickly as possible and get new tenants in who will start paying rent.

However, please note that when you use the accelerated possession procedure, the court will not order the tenants to pay any rent arrears to you. You must instead apply to the county court for a court order against the tenants requiring them to pay the outstanding rent to you.

If you do not meet the conditions listed above, and the tenants are in arrears of rent, you are advised to read our section on applying on the ground of rent arrears for more information.

A landlord may not evict a tenant from residential property without obtaining a court order. If a landlord does evict a tenant without obtaining a court order, it is a criminal offence under section 5 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and the landlord may be fined and/or sent to prison and/or be subjected to a civil claim for damages.

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