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This guide is meant as a basic insight into the serving of a Section 8 Notice and is not exhaustive. Professional legal advice should always be sought before any legal process is undertaken.

It is vital a Section 8 Notice is served correctly to avoid costly and frustrating delays.

For example, if a landlord is basing their claim for arrears of rent, then failure to follow the correct process can be costly and result in delays.

What is a Section Notice for?

This is the first step to gaining possession of a rental property during a tenancy. This can only be used if there are grounds for eviction such as rent arrears. The landlord must state the reason for seeking eviction in the Section 8 Notice.

When is a Section Notice applicable?

The Section 8 Notice is applicable if a landlord is renting a property under an Assured or Regulated tenancy and wants to take possession.

Under an Assured or Regulated tenancy there must be grounds under the Housing Act 1988 to serve a Section 8 Notice.

Under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy a Section 8 Notice can be served provided there are mandatory or discretionary grounds.

Mandatory Grounds

The Section 8 Notice must state the grounds upon which possession is being sought. If the mandatory grounds are met the court must make an order for possession.

A well drafted tenancy agreement will always state that possession may be sought under these grounds as the tenant must know this before the tenancy commences.

  • Ground 1: Landlord needs to live in property
    The landlord or their spouse/civil partner needs the property as their main home. They must have previously lived there.
  • Ground 2: Property subject to mortgage
    If the property has a mortgage that started before the tenancy, the lender may repossess the property. Tenants can be evicted under this ground if they knew before the tenancy began that the property may be taken back in this instance.
  • Ground 3: Holiday let
    If the property is normally let as a holiday home (for example, in the summer) landlords can take back the property. The tenancy mustn’t be longer than eight months for this ground to apply, and the property must have been let as a holiday home the year before.
  • Ground 4: Educational institution
    This applies to dwellings like student halls. Possession can be sought if the tenancy is fewer than 12 months, and the property belongs to an educational institution. It must have been let as a student home the year before.
  • Ground 5: Minister of religion
    Used for when religious bodies need the property for a new minister to live in and to perform their duties.
  • Ground 6: Refurbishment
    Landlords can take back the property if they need to do vast repairs which would make it uninhabitable. Landlords may have to pay for removal costs.
  • Ground 7: Tenant death
    If a tenant dies, the tenancy may be passed on under the will of the deceased. Landlords can take back the property within 12 months after the tenant dies if the tenancy hasn’t passed on to a spouse or civil partner.
  • Ground 8: Rent arrears
    Landlords can take back a property if tenants are in rent arrears. They must be in arrears both on the date the notice is served and on the date it’s brought to court.

    If rent is paid weekly or monthly, tenants must be in arrears by eight weeks or two months for this ground to apply.

Discretionary Grounds

The Section 8 Notice can state the discretionary grounds upon which possession is being sought. If discretionary grounds are met the court can make an order for possession or afford the tenant another chance. The landlord will often have to meet the legal costs when this happens.

  • Ground 9: Suitable accommodation of the same type and quality has been offered to the tenant and refused. The landlord is required to pay all reasonable removal costs if possession is granted.
  • Ground 10: The rent is in arrears but by no more than 8 weeks in the case of weekly payments, 2 months in the case of monthly payments and 1 quarter in the case of quarterly payments.
  • Ground 11: The tenant is repeatedly late with payments or repeatedly fails to pay their rent until prompted by the landlord.
  • Ground 12: The tenant has breached any of the terms listed in the tenancy agreement.
  • Ground 13: The tenant has neglected or damaged the property, or they have sublet the property to another individual who has neglected or damaged the property.
  • Ground 14: The tenant is considered a nuisance to neighbours or other tenants and has received complaints concerning their conduct.
  • Ground 15: The furniture listed on the property inventory has been misused, damaged, broken or sold by the tenant or any individual living with them.
  • Ground 16: The property was let to the tenant as a condition of their employment but the employment has now come to an end.
  • Ground 17: The property was let on the basis of false information provided by the tenant or one of their referees/ guarantor.

What is the Required Notice Period?

The amount of notice a landlord is required to give differs according to the grounds they are citing on the Section 8 form. Ground 2 for example, requires a minimum of 2 months’ notice but grounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 only require 2 weeks’ notice.

What happens next?

The Section 8 Notice must clearly state the date on which the notice expires.

This would be the date the arrears of rent must be paid by or the date vacant possession should be given. In the vast majority of cases this does not happen and further action is needed.

The landlord can start court possession proceedings the day after the notice expires.

This process is started by utilising court forms N5 and N119 and paying the appropriate court fee.

Important notes

Landlords must ensure they have put the tenancts deposit in an appropriate tenant deposit protection scheme. The landlord can be fined three times this amount and this could wipe out any rent arrears preventing possession.

Landlords should make reasonable efforts to remind tenants to clear their rent arrears.

Landlords should ensure they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement to avoid a court dismissing an application for possession where the tenant has withheld rent for this reason.

What happens if the tenants still do not leave?

If a landlord gets a court order for possession and the tenants still do not leave the landlord must apply to the court bailiff to remove them by force.