UK Landlord Guide to Forfeiture of Residential Lease

Termination of a residential lease is a complicated process that allows landlords to end the lease and get back their property when tenants breach the lease. This guide is for UK landlords and covers the legal procedures, rights and responsibilities involved in terminating residential leases. It includes steps, preventative measures and FAQs.

Forfeiture of Residential Lease

What is Forfeiture of Residential Lease?

Forfeiture of a residential lease is the landlord’s right to end the lease due to the tenant’s breach of the lease. Common reasons for forfeiture are non-payment of rent, illegal activities and serious breaches of covenants.

Legal Basis for Forfeiture

The legal basis for forfeiture is usually found in the lease agreement itself, under the forfeiture clause. In the UK, Section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 sets out the procedures and requirements for forfeiture and provides a statutory framework that landlords must follow.

Conditions for That Allow Forfeiture

Non-Payment of Rent

Non-payment of rent is the most common reason for forfeiture. For landlords to forfeit, the rent must be overdue beyond the grace period specified in the lease agreement.

Breach of Lease Terms

Other breaches that can lead to forfeiture are unauthorized alterations, illegal activities on the premises and failure to keep the property in good condition. Each lease will define different breaches that justify forfeiture.

Serve a Section 146 Notice

Before forfeiting, landlords must serve a Section 146 notice to the tenant. This notice must state the breach, give a remedy period and any compensation required. The notice gives the tenant the opportunity to put right the breach and avoid forfeiture.

The Forfeiture Process

Step-by-Step Guide to Forfeiture

  1. Identify the Breach:What lease term has the tenant breached?
  2. Serve a Section 146 Notice:Serve the Section 146 notice, stating the breach and what needs to be done to put it right.
  3. Wait for Compliance:Give the tenant the time specified in the notice to put right the breach.
  4. Forfeit: If the tenant doesn’t put right the breach, the landlord can forfeit through a court order.


For residential properties, landlords will usually need a court order to repossess the property legally. The court will check that all the legal requirements have been met and the tenant had a fair chance to put right the breach.

Possession Orders

A possession order is a court document that allows the landlord to regain possession of the property. Landlords can apply for a standard possession order or an accelerated possession order depending on the circumstances.

Landlord’s Rights and Responsibilities

Legal Requirements

Landlords must follow all the legal procedures when forfeiting. Failure to do so can make the forfeiture unlawful and lead to legal consequences including compensation to the tenant.

Recovering Rent Arrears

Even after forfeiture, landlords can recover outstanding rent and costs. This can be through a debt recovery process or a settlement with the tenant.

Securing the Property

Once forfeited, landlords should secure the property, including changing the locks and making sure the property is secure from unauthorised access or vandalism.


Clear Lease Agreements

Having clear lease agreements can prevent disputes. Make sure all terms, including rent payment and forfeiture, are clearly stated and agreed by both parties.

Regular Monitoring

Monitoring the property and tenant compliance regularly can identify and fix breaches early and prevent the need for forfeiture.

Open Communication

Keep communication open with tenants and resolve issues before they get to the point of forfeiture.


What’s the first step in forfeiting a residential lease?

First step is to serve a Section 146 notice to the tenant, stating the breach and giving them a chance to put it right.

Can I forfeit a lease for minor breaches?

Minor breaches can lead to forfeiture but landlords should consider the seriousness of the breach and whether it’s justified. Courts may see forfeiture for minor breaches as unreasonable.

How long does the forfeiture process take?

The time frame for forfeiture varies. If uncontested it can be quick. If the tenant contests it can take several months due to court proceedings.

Can tenants challenge the forfeiture of a residential lease?

Yes, tenants can challenge in court if they think the landlord didn’t follow the proper procedures or if they can put right the breach.

Is forfeiture applicable to all residential leases?

Forfeiture applies to most residential leases but specific terms and conditions in the lease agreement and statutory protections like assured shorthold tenancies can affect the process.


For UK landlords to protect their property and investments, it’s important to understand the process of forfeiture of a residential lease. Follow the legal requirements, have clear lease agreements and communicate with tenants and you can manage breaches and avoid forfeiture. For legal advice contact a property lawyer, such as Darwin Gray.