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Repossessing property in Wales

This information only applies in Wales.

At some point, many landlords will need to repossess their property, either due to tenancy problems or simply because they wish to sell or move back in. Although this is normally a straightforward process, in Wales the situation is slightly different to England, as set out in this guide.

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Just as in England, most private tenancies in Wales are assured shorthold tenancies, under which landlords cannot generally recover possession during the first six months.

A Section 21 for Wales notice can be used to serve notice to recover possession (as long as the repossession date falls after the initial period agreed under the tenancy agreement). Sufficient notice must be given and landlords must also be registered as a landlord with Rent Smart Wales.

A Section 8 notice can be used in cases where there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement by the tenant.

Under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, all landlords renting properties in Wales must register with Rent Smart Wales. Rent Smart Wales is the licensing authority that processes landlord registrations and grants licences to landlords and their agents. Landlords who have not registered with Rent Smart Wales - or who do not have a valid licence - are unable to serve a Section 21 notice. This does not affect their right to serve a Section 8 notice.

Section 21 notice - this is the standard type of notice which is served when a landlord wishes to repossess their property and the tenancy is outside its fixed term (ie the initial term of the tenancy has expired).

Section 8 notice - this type of notice can be used if the tenants have breached the tenancy agreement (eg failure to pay rent or anti-social behaviour).

The first step is serving the Section 21 notice or the Section 8 notice, as appropriate.

Section 21 notices must normally provide at least 2 months' notice to the tenant. Section 8 notices can provide between 2 weeks and 2 months of notice - depending on the nature of terms that have been breached by the tenant. 

Where a landlord is seeking to evict a tenant who has always been on a periodic (or 'rolling') tenancy (ie a tenant who was never on a fixed-term tenancy), more notice may need to be given. This is because the notice needs to expire at the end of a rental period (ie the notice must expire on the last day of the rental period). For example, take a periodic tenancy that rolls from month to month (ie rent being paid monthly on the first of the month). A landlord serves a section 21 notice partway through the month, on the 15 March. The eviction notice would have to provide 2 months' notice (ie 15 May) but would not be able to end until the last day of the rental period (ie the end of the rental month, here 31 May).

Proof of service notice must be retained, either by filling out a certification of service form (N215) or by writing 'served by [name of landlord] on [date]' on the notice and keeping a copy. If tenants have not vacated by the relevant date, an accelerated possession order can be sought.

Landlords can apply to the court for a possession order if the tenants have not left by the end of the notice period.

Ask a lawyer for more information on applying for a possession order or court proceedings.

There are various circumstances under which Section 21 notices can be held invalid, including:

  • the landlord or agent has not registered with Rent Smart Wales
  • the landlord has not provided tenants with a current Energy Performance Certificate or gas safety record
  • if sufficient notice has not been provided
  • if a deposit has not been placed in a valid deposit protection scheme
  • the landlord has not repaid any unlawfully charged fees or returned an unlawfully retained holding deposit for tenancies starting after 1 September 2019 - read Tenant fees for more information

Section 21 notices can currently be used for any reason (or indeed no reason) - even if this is because a landlord wishes to avoid their repairing obligations. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, which is expected to come into force in spring 2022, will allow the court to refuse orders for repossession in cases of so-called ‘retaliatory eviction' (eg where a landlord issues a Section 21 notice because they are trying to avoid their obligations relating to repairing for fitness or human habitation).

It is very important that the contract holder has definitely abandoned the property (ie they haven’t just gone on an extended holiday) otherwise the landlord may be unlawfully evicting them. The landlord must give 4 weeks’ notice to the contract holder of the property as per section 220 of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016. This notice must outline why they believe the property has been abandoned and that they intend to take possession at the end of the 4 week notice period.

If the landlord reasonably believes that the property has been abandoned (ie there have been no responses to any of the notices or rent paid) then they may enter the property and take possession.

For more information, read Tenant abandonment.

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