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.
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.
The requirements of Section 8 include the following:
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:
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.
For Rent Arrears, perhaps the most common claim, the landlord relies on either one or a combination of grounds 8, 10 and 11.
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
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
Notices can be served (1) in person, (2) at the property (through the letter box) (3) by mail. Remember to keep copies of everything.
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.
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
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:
Net Lawman has a team of expert Solicitors and Barrister which gives professional advice on section 8 notice, and subsequent possession forms.