What is a Section 8 Notice to quit?
A ‘section 8 notice to quit’, also known as a ‘section 8 possession notice’. Generally, the section 8 route is used where there is some default on the part of the tenant. The most common type of default during the term of the tenancy will be non-payment of rent, but any breaches of the terms of the tenancy agreement can also precipitate possession proceedings (e.g. damage to the property, nuisance to neighbours etc.) using this route.
The landlord cannot evict the tenant without first obtaining an order for possession from a court. The court will require that the landlord, or his agent, is able to show adequate evidence or proof of the default before it will order the tenant to move out of his rented home.
Differences between Section 8 and Section 21
Section 8 notices are similar to another legal tool, known as a Section 21 notice. A Section 8 notice can be issued during an Assured Shorthold Tenancy – the most common type of residential tenancy agreement. Section 21 notices, on the other hand, can only be issued at the end of a tenancy – for example if the tenant has refused to leave the property after the term of the tenancy has expired.
Requirements of Section 8 Notice
The requirements of Section 8 include the following:
The Landlord must serve a Section 8 Notice on the Tenant(s) and begin Section 8 Proceedings within the prescribed time frame;
The Section 8 Notice must be in the prescribed format; and
The Section 8 Notice must specify which ground(s) of possession the Landlord is using to obtain possession.
Grounds for Possession:
Section 2 of the Housing Act 1988 provides 17 grounds that the Landlord may use in order to obtain possession of his property from the Tenant. Where there is more than one ground for possession, all the applicable grounds should be included on the Section 8 Notice.
A brief summary of the 17 grounds of possession follows:
Ground 1: The Landlord used to live or he intends to live in the property as his principal home.
Ground 2: The Mortgagee is claiming possession (only in cases where the mortgage predates the tenancy).
Ground 3: The tenancy is a holiday let and was previously let for a holiday.
Ground 4: The tenancy is a student let and was previously let by an educational establishment to students.
Ground 5: The property is held for use by a minister of religion.
Ground 6: The Landlord intends to redevelop the property.
Ground 7: The former tenant has died (except where there is a person with a right to succeed).
Ground 8: The Tenant owed at least 2 months rent (for a monthly tenancy), 8 weeks rent (for a weekly tenancy), 3 months rent (for a quarterly tenancy) or 6 months rent (for a yearly tenancy) at the date of service of the Section 8 Notice and still owes at least this amount of rent on the date of the court hearing.
Ground 9: Suitable alternative accommodation is available.
Ground 10: The Tenant was in arrears with his rent at the time of sending Section 8 Notice and at the commencement of court proceedings.
Ground 11: The Tenant is consistently in arrears with his rent payments, even if he is not in arrears at the commencement of court proceedings.
Ground 12: The Tenant has breached one or more of terms of the tenancy agreement.
Ground 13: The Tenant, his sub-tenant or any other person living in the property has caused the condition of the property or any of the common parts to deteriorate.
Ground 14: The Tenant or someone who is living in or visiting the property has caused or is likely to cause a noise or nuisance to neighbours, alternatively they have used the property or allowed it to be used for immoral or illegal purposes, or they have committed an arrestable offence in or around the property.
Ground 15: The Tenant, his sub-tenant or any other person living in the property has caused the condition of the furniture to deteriorate.
Ground 16: The Tenant was granted the property as a result of his employment and is now no longer employed by the Landlord.
Ground 17: The Landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by either the Tenant or by someone on the Tenant’s behalf.
Mandatory Grounds vs Discretionary Grounds
Some of the grounds are mandatory, which means that if a landlord proves that one of the grounds applies the court has no choice but to award him possession. Some of the mandatory grounds, called ‘prior notice’ grounds, can only be used if the landlord informed the tenant in writing before the tenancy started that he intended one day to ask for his property back using those grounds The following grounds are mandatory: Grounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
The other grounds are discretionary, and the court will only award possession if it is reasonable to do so. The following grounds are discretionary: Grounds 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17.
Does a Section 8 notice to quit Guarantee a Possession Order?
Issuing a section 8 notice to quit on a tenant does not guarantee that the court will grant a possession order. It depends largely on which grounds are relied upon as well as the strength of the landlord’s argument.
Grounds 2 and 8 of a section 8 notice are mandatory, meaning that if a landlord relies on one of these grounds and can prove to the court that one of them applies, then the court will have no choice but to issue the landlord with a possession order.
Grounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14A, 15 and 17 are discretionary, meaning that the court will not necessarily rule in the landlord’s favour even if he can prove that one of the grounds applies. In these cases it is at the court’s discretion whether to grant a landlord a possession order. They will weigh up the facts and make a decision based on what they see as fair and reasonable.
If a court is satisfied that a landlord is entitled to possession on one of the grounds, then the court will grant a possession order to take effect within 14 days. It is possible that this will be extended to six weeks if it will cause the tenant to experience exceptional hardship.
Claims for Rent Arrears
For Rent Arrears, perhaps the most common claim, the landlord relies on either one or a combination of grounds 8, 10 and 11.
Ground 8 – the tenant owes at least two months’ rent (monthly tenancy) when the notice was served and at the date of the court hearing. Where rent is payable weekly, quarterly or yearly this ground requires that there are rent arrears of eight weeks, three months and six months respectively.
Ground 10: the rent was overdue when the landlord served notice and when he began court proceedings
Ground 11: the tenant has been persistently late in paying his rent.
Section 8 and Anti Social Behaviour
Nuisance, noise, general anti-social behaviour and damages are contentious issues and notoriously difficult for a landlord to prove. It’s generally only worth pursuing the s8 route as far as the courts in these circumstances if the tenancy has a long period left to run and perhaps where neighbours or other tenants are complaining.
It’s a reminder to landlords that issuing long tenancies – more than six months – can introduce an element of risk forif the tenant is not proven in performance. If you are affected by anti social behaviour problems collect all the evidence you can by keeping a diary of disturbances and reporting to the police and take statements from witnesses
Notice Periods Required
Serving a Section 8 Notice – You must serve notice seeking possession of the property on the tenant before starting court proceedings. You need to give the following periods of notice:
Grounds 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15 or 17 – at least 2 weeks
Grounds 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 16 – at least 2 months
For ground 14 – you can start proceedings as soon as you have served notice
Serving Tenancy Notices
Notices can be served (1) in person, (2) at the property (through the letter box) (3) by mail. Remember to keep copies of everything.
Serving in person is perhaps the preferable method as there’s no doubt about the actual date of service, but have a witness.
Service at the Property through the letter box is also a good method, but a witness is also important here.
Service by mail is an acceptable method (first class post – next day delivery) but allow 3 working days for delivery and use “Proof of Postage” This means the Post Office will give a receipt of postage and the address to which the notice is sent. This will be accepted by the court if you have a receipt.
Recorded Delivery can cause problems if the intended recipient refuses to sign. This means it’s returned to you, by which time you may have missed the trigger date and you may then need to give an extra month’s notice.
Problems with Section 8
Unlike the s21 route, if successful s8 can give you both a possession order anda money order for arrears of rent without separate hearings, but if possession is your priority you may not achieve this.
In the case of rent arrears (Ground 8) tenants can undermine your claim by paying off some of the arrears. The tenant/s may claim that repairs have been requested and not carried out or that you have been harassing them.
Therefore, it is better to take legal advice before acting under section 8. Net Lawman gives professional advice on issue of section 8.
A Possession Action (court hearing)
The landlord can initiate proceedings as soon as the Section 8 Notice has expired.
To gain possession of the property the landlord will need to complete theForm for Possession of PropertyN5 Form and theParticulars of Claim N119. If you also want to claim rent arrears you can provide details on the particulars of claim form.
Section 8 in a Nutshell
The Main Points of the Section 8 Route (from the Housing Act):
the landlord or, in the case of joint landlords, at least one of them, has served on the tenant a notice in accordance with the relevant section (s8) and the proceedings are begun within the time-limits prescribed and clearly stated on the notice
the notice must be given in the prescribed form – there forms are available from legal stationers or downloaded from this web site
the notice must specify the ground or grounds why a landlord seeks possession.
The Housing Acts provide 18 grounds that a landlord can use to recover possession under s8. (Ground 14a applies only to Registered Social Landlords). The landlord must specify in the notice which ground he intends to rely on and give precise particulars of the ground or grounds which apply.
Rejection by Court
There are a number of common mistakes that are likely to lead to your submission being rejected by the court. These include:
Failure to use the most up-to-date form
Failure to give the full and proper address of the property on the form
Failure to list every tenant in cases of joint tenancy
Failure to provide details of the claim; for example, a payment schedule showing which payments have been missed
Failure to state the grounds exactly as they appear in the Housing Act.
Therefore, never rely totally on standard wording of grounds and general content which relates primarily to England & Wales. Before taking any action, always seek appropriate professional advice with the full facts of the case
Net Lawman has a team of expert Solicitors and Barrister which gives professional advice on section 8 notice, and subsequent possession forms.
For more information, visit us at http://www.netlawman.co.uk