Possession Proceedings - When Your Tenants Refuse to Handover the Keys

You are a landlord. You have served your tenants either a section 21 or section 8 notice and they are refusing to move out. What do you do?

When a tenant refuses to leave, you will have to commence court proceedings to evict them.

There are two ways of evicting a tenant:

  1. The Accelerated Procedure; or
  2. The Standard Procedure.

It is important that you use the correct procedure and forms to avoid any kind of delay or in the worse case scenario having to restart the proceedings and serving a fresh notice.

The Accelerated Procedure

Under this procedure, you must first serve the correct notice. Only once the notice has expired can you issue proceedings. You will need to complete the correct forms, provide evidence of the tenancy and that the deposit was paid into a deposit scheme.

If there are no grounds for a defence or if a defence has not been filed then the court will order the tenant to leave the property within 14 days.

If the tenant shows that they will suffer hardship by moving out, the court may allow extra time (of up to 6 weeks) for the tenant to vacate when making an order.

The Standard Procedure

Again, under this procedure, you will first be required to serve the correct notice. The notice period will ultimately depend on the ground(s) you are relying on.

The court will then set a date for a hearing. At the hearing, you will be required to establish the ground(s) you are relying on. There are 17 different grounds. Eight of them are ‘mandatory’ meaning if either of the eight are established then the court then the court must grant possession. The other nine grounds are ‘discretionary’ meaning you must persuade the court that the tenants should be evicted.


If you did not put the deposit into a registered tenancy deposit scheme, you cannot serve a section 21 notice. You can also face a claim from the tenant(s) for three times the deposit amount.

You may still serve a section 8 notice but there is no guarantee you will be successful.

What if I have not paid the deposit into a scheme?

You should pay the deposit in to a scheme immediately. By paying it into a scheme before any action is taken, you may be able to avoid paying up to three times the amount of the deposit.


When considering any kind of recovery action for rent arrears, it is important that you assess whether it is worth pursuing the action. It is one thing obtaining a judgment, it is another trying to recover it.

If the tenant(s) had money, they would have been paying their rent in the first place rather than risk having a CCJ against them. You should therefore consider whether it is worthwhile spending a substantial amount of money on recovery, when there is no hope of a return.

For more information, please contact our Litigation Department and ask to speak to Abtin Yeganeh on 020 3744 3800.