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Guide to the possession action process

If a property owner or letting agent needs to regain possession of a property, they should follow the government’s guidance which is to mediate with your tenant before going down the repossession route. The government also recommends making use of the new Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service which has recently been launched and provides advice to tenants about evictions.  

The repossession action begins through either a ‘no fault’ section 21 or section 8 notice. 


What does the procedure for taking possession of a property entail? 

To regain possession of a property from a tenant, you must initiate the process by serving either a section 8 or section 21 notice, specifying the date by which you expect them to vacate the premises. 

Should the tenant fail to vacate by the stipulated date, you have three options for applying for a possession order: 

  • You can utilize the online system for a section 8 notice based on rent arrears. 
  • For other section 8 grounds or for rent arrears in cases where online service is unavailable, you will need to complete a paper form. In cases where the tenant owes rent and you are pursuing a section 21 notice, the same form is applicable. 
  • In cases where the tenant is not in rent arrears, but you are using a section 21 notice, you can apply for an accelerated possession order. 

Following this, you will receive a hearing date and additional instructions. It is crucial to provide copies of the case documents to both the court and the tenant. 

Subsequently, you will attend the possession hearing, during which the judge will determine the next steps. These may include: 

  • Postponing the hearing 
  • Dismissing the claim 
  • Issuing a possession order, typically requiring the tenant to vacate within 14-28 days 
  • Issuing a suspended possession order, which mandates the tenant to fulfil specific conditions, such as paying a minimum rent amount each month, to remain in the property 

If a possession order is granted, and the tenants do not vacate as specified, you can apply for a warrant of possession, which a bailiff will execute. 

How can you resolve an issue without resorting to court action? 

The government encourages landlords and agents to seek resolutions with tenants that circumvent the court process, given that court proceedings can incur costs ranging from £400 to £500, excluding legal fees. Government guidance outlines the following steps: 

  • Directly communicate with your tenants to address rent arrears or anti-social behaviour and explore mutually agreeable solutions. 
  • Consider dispute resolution methods to reach a “mutually acceptable agreement,” such as utilizing services like TDS Resolution, PRS (Private Rented Sector) Mediation Service, or Resolve by Flatfair, or seeking assistance from your local council. 
  • If you are a letting agent, you might have access to dispute resolution guidance through your redress scheme. Additionally, Goodlord offers mediation services under its Rent Protection and Legal Expenses Insurance. 
  • These options necessitate engaging with your tenant to understand their circumstances, advising them on potential benefits they could access, or devising a repayment plan. Should you decide to pursue this route, you will need to share this information with the court, although the guidance emphasizes that resorting to the court should be a last resort. 


What is the Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service? 

Tenants can now access free legal advice and representation throughout the possession process via the Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service, including representation at court hearings. 

A housing expert will collaborate with the tenant to help them comprehend the reasons behind the eviction notice and suggest possible solutions. 

This service’s availability will be mentioned in an updated version of the How to Rent guide starting from October 2023. 


The information in this post is valid to the best of our knowledge on the date of posting. It is advised that you seek independent advice based on your individual circumstances. 

T +44 (0)203 488 1488 




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