Defence of Tenant’s Actions


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Defend Your Tenancy with Experienced Solicitors

For renters, nothing is more worrying than receiving a possession notice. If your landlord is trying to evict you, you may wish to dispute the claim. However, the court process can be daunting – especially when you’re already managing the stress of a potential eviction.

Planning a defence can be even more confusing if you’re not aware of your rights as a tenant.

Whether your landlord claims you’ve broken your agreement or accrued rent arrears, we’re here to help you. With over 1,000 landlord-tenant disputes resolved, Osbourne Pinner Solicitors have the experience and expertise to support the defence of tenant actions. As landlord and tenant solicitors, we can assist in submitting your defence, processing your counterclaim, and advising you through every step of the process.

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Can I Defend a Possession Notice?

If your landlord has filed a possession notice, you may be able to submit a defence to stay in your home. However, this will depend on the type of notice filed. These can fall into two categories.

If your landlord submits a section 21 notice, they don’t have to provide a reason for wanting to evict you. As this notice doesn’t require your landlord to prove you are at fault, you usually won’t be able to defend against this claim. However, in some circumstances, you may be able to challenge the claim if the landlord has not filed it correctly.
Landlords can only use this type of claim on assured shorthold tenancies, not assured tenancies.

Posting Notice

Section 8 notice

You can make a defence against a section 8 notice. Aside from issuing the notice correctly, your landlord will need to provide a clear reason for evicting you. There are two types of grounds landlords can use as justification for an eviction – these are mandatory and discretionary grounds. Landlords can use a mix of these grounds within their claim.

Mandatory Grounds

The first set of grounds are mandatory. If your landlord can prove these grounds to the court, the judge has to grant the possession notice. Applicable reasons include:

  1. The landlord wants to move back to the property
  2. The mortgage lender is repossessing the property
  3. The property is to be used as an out of season property let
  4. The property is let to a student by an educational institution
  5. The property is required for use by a minister of religion
  6. The landlord wants to demolish or redevelop the property
  7. Death of assured tenant

7a. The tenant has committed serious anti-social behaviour

7b. The tenant doesn’t have the right to rent in the UK

  1. The tenant has serious rent arrears

Discretionary Grounds

Grounds 9 – 17 are completely discretionary. That means it’s up to the judge to decide whether the possession notice should go ahead, regardless of whether these grounds are proven. These include:

  1. Alternative accommodation has been made available to the tenant
  2. Rent is in arrears at the time of serving the notice and starting proceedings
  3. Persistent delayed rent payments
  4. Breached tenancy agreement
  5. Tenant caused deterioration of the property
  6. Nuisance or annoyance, or illegal or immoral use of property

14A. Domestic violence (only applicable to social tenants, if the victim has left permanently.)

14ZA. Tenant committed an offence at a riot

  1. Tenant has caused deterioration of landlord’s furniture
  2. Employment associated with the tenancy has terminated
  3. Tenancy was granted due to a false statement

Required Notice

The notice your landlord submits will depend on the circumstances. However, in most cases, landlords will use both section 21 and section 8 notices, as this provides them with the highest chance of securing the possession. 

How Do I Defend My Tenancy From a Possession Notice?

If you do not vacate the property by the date requested in the possession notice, your landlord may put forward a claim for possession to the county court. Regardless of which process they use, you can question the validity of the notice. However, you can usually only mount a defence against a section 8 possession notice.

It’s essential to put forward a defence as soon as possible if you have a legal reason for disputing the section 8 notice – or if you wish to have the possession postponed due to serious hardship. The court will provide you with a defence form for this purpose. Once you receive this, you can seek legal advice, which can help you to understand your legal standing. 

You can challenge your landlord’s reason for filing a section 8 if you can prove it is not valid. For example, if your landlord is claiming rent arrears as their reason for possession, you could challenge this if your financial circumstances have changed significantly. Speaking with a landlord and tenant solicitor will give you a clear grasp of all the options available to your defence. It’s important to ensure the information in your defence form is complete, as delays to your court case may incur additional fees.

It is also illegal for your landlord to evict you due to discrimination against protected characteristics. These are disability, race, age, gender reassignment, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, and religion or belief.

You should always seek legal advice if you feel the eviction is related to a disability or another protected characteristic.

In some cases, you may also wish to file a counterclaim against your landlord.

For example, if they have not completed essential repairs that you requested, you may be entitled to compensation. 

Steps to Take After Receiving a Notice of Possession

Receiving a possession notice can be a very worrying experience. You may not know what to expect. Whilst it can vary depending on your circumstances, there are generally several steps to the process.

Receiving the notice

First, your landlord will send you a possession notice, either using Form 6a, under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 or Form 3, under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. This will provide a clear date by which you are expected to leave your home. This can be a very upsetting notice to receive, but you should read it carefully. You’ll need to think carefully about whether you have a good case to dispute the claim.

Seek legal advice

One of the best steps to take is to speak with a solicitor. They can help you to form your defence and determine possible solutions. You can also try to resolve the issue amicably with your landlord, which your solicitor can assist with. However, should your relationship deteriorate, you should always be aware that it is unlawful for your landlord to harass you.

Defend against a possession claim

If you dispute the possession notice and remain in the property, the landlord may file a claim for possession in the county court. You’ll receive a defence form to provide your response. Depending on the type of claim, there will usually be a hearing, which you will need to prepare for. Solicitors can support you with this process to help you through this difficult time.

Tenant Ringing Solicitor For Help

When Can a Tenant Solicitor Support my Defence?

You may wish to seek advice or representation by a solicitor at several stages of the possession process. That includes support regarding…


  • Your legal standing when you first receive a possession notice
  • Returning a defence form if your landlord files a claim for possession
  • Discussing your case before a possession hearing
  • Representing you at the possession hearing
  • Legal advice about appeals or warrants of possession

How Osbourne Pinner Can Help

Expert Legal Advice

From the moment you receive a possession notice to the date of your court hearing and beyond, our solicitors can provide you with the expert advice and support you need. We’ll discuss your circumstances, advise you on potential grounds for defence, and manage your communication with landlords and the courts, as and when necessary.

Filing Defence Forms and Providing Representation

Filling in your defence form correctly is of vital importance, but it’s often confusing and overwhelming to complete. Our experienced solicitors can file your defence forms and represent you at a possession hearing, so you can feel more at ease.

Facilitating Tenancy Mediation

Evictions are often a costly final resort. Landlords may be open to communication with tenants to resolve the issue without reclaiming possession of your property. Osbourne Pinner Solicitors can help you to work through every step of the mediation process.

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Book a Free 30-Minute Consultation with a Solicitor

If you’re feeling confused about the possession process, then it’s time to seek expert advice. At Osbourne Pinner, our landlord and tenant solicitors are highly experienced at defending tenants from possession claims. Whether you need advice or representation, it’s best to make a start on your defence as early as possible. 

Our 30-minute consultation is entirely free-of-charge and can help to put your mind at rest, as we discuss your case and plan potential resolutions. Whether you’d prefer to visit our offices or join a video call, there’s an option that suits you. Book a consultation with our online form or contact us on 0203 983 5080.


We do not offer Legal Aid.

Please let us know what's on your mind. Have a question for us? Ask away.

FAQs About Defending Tenant’s Actions

Also known as a “no-fault eviction”, Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 is a legal action that private landlords can use to request a tenant to leave their property. This method can only be used on tenancies with an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. This is usually the preferred method for landlords, as it does not require them to provide a reason for the eviction. 

Ultimately, this depends on whether the possession notice is valid. If your landlord serves you with a valid possession notice, then you cannot defend a section 21 notice. However, you can defend against a possession notice if you can prove it is invalid – for example, because the landlord used the incorrect form or did not provide you with suitable notice.

Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 is another legal action that landlords can use to instruct a tenant to leave their home. This method can be used on both assured shorthold tenancies and assured tenancies. You may receive this notice at any point during your tenancy. To defend against a section 8 notice, you will need to either show that the notice is invalid or disprove the landlord’s grounds for possession. Seeking legal advice from landlord and tenant solicitors can help you to defend section 8 notices.

Landlords need to provide grounds for a section 8 possession notice. These grounds are either mandatory, which the court must grant if they are proven, or discretionary, which the court may decide to grant (or not) at its own discretion. Here are the grounds for Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988:

Mandatory grounds

  1. Landlord wants to move back to the property
  2. Repossession of the property
  3. Out of season holiday let
  4. Let to a student by an educational institution
  5. Property required for use by a minister of religion
  6. Demolition or redevelopment of the property
  7. Death of tenant

      7a. Serious anti-social behaviour

      7b. No right to rent in the UK

  1. Serious rent arrears

Discretionary grounds

  1. Alternative accommodation has been made available
  2. Some rent arrears 
  3. Persistent late rent payments
  4. Breach of tenancy agreement 
  5. Tenant caused deterioration of the property
  6. Nuisance or annoyance, or illegal or immoral use of property

      14A. Domestic violence (only applicable to social tenants, if the victim has left permanently.)

      14ZA. Riot offences 

  1. Deterioration of landlord’s furniture
  2. Employment 
  3. False statement

Depending on the grounds your landlord uses for their claim, they are required to give you either 2 weeks or 2 months notice. If you are still living at the property after the notice period, they can apply to the court for a claim for possession. Once you have received the notice, your landlord has one year to file a claim with the courts.