A Section 8 Notice is the legal procedure to end a tenancy when a tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy agreement.
If court proceedings are needed then you have to ensure that the Section 8 Notice has been completed and served in the correct way. There are currently 17 grounds for possession which the Court will deem as either ‘mandatory’ or ‘discretionary’ possession, as outlined below:
The Mandatory Grounds whereby the court must grant possession are:
- Ground 1: The landlord wishes to regain possession of the property as they used to occupy the property and now wishes to move back into the property to use as their main home.
- Ground 2: The property is subject to a mortgage and the property is due to be repossessed by the bank.
- Ground 3: The tenancy is a fixed term of not more than 8 months and the property was previously a holiday let.
- Ground 4: The tenancy is a fixed term of not more than 12 months and the property is student accommodation let outside of the term.
- Ground 5: The property required for use by a minister of religion.
- Ground 6: The property requires demolition or redevelopment.
- Ground 7: The tenant has passed away.
- Ground 8: The tenant is in rent arrears.
The Discretionary Grounds whereby the court may grant possession are:
- Ground 9: There is suitable, alternative accommodation for the tenant upon possession.
- Ground 10: The tenant is in rent arrears.
- Ground 11: Persistent late payment of rent by the tenant, regardless of whether they are in rent arrears.
- Ground 12: The tenant has breached their obligations as per the terms of the tenancy agreement, not including late/non-payment of rent.
- Ground 13: The state of the property has deteriorated due to the tenant’s behaviour.
- Ground 14: The tenant is causing a nuisance or annoyance to people residing at the property or visiting the property or the tenant is convicted in engaging in illegal or using the property for immoral purposes.
- Ground 15: The tenant has allowed the landlord’s furniture to deteriorate due to the mistreatment.
- Ground 16: The tenant only occupies the property due to the former employment by the landlord.
- Ground 17: The landlord previously granted the tenancy as a result of a statement made by the tenant which is later found to be false.
It must be noted that the correct ground must be used on the Section 8, as the court can reject an application if incorrect.
Depending on the ground being relied upon will affect how much notice you need to give the tenant. A few examples have been set out below:
If a tenant is in a serious amount of rent arrears then you may be looking for the quickest way to get them out of the property. The tenant must be in at least 2 months arrears in order to use this notice. The notice period reduces 2 weeks for this ground however, if the tenant makes a payment towards the arrears, even if it is less than their monthly payment, the 2 weeks’ notice will restart and the notice will no longer be valid and must be served again.
We would usually advise that a Section 21 Notice also be served to protect your position (see our blog post on Section 21 Notices).
If a tenant has caused a serious amount of damage to the property either internally or externally and/or has constantly been causing a nuisance, the notice period is to 2 weeks.
There are different notice periods depending on the ground that is being relied upon and the type of the tenancy agreement. Therefore, you must ensure you check the type of tenancy agreement in situ. Where the landlord relies on multiple grounds (but not ground 14 or ground 7A) the notice required will be the higher of the notice periods relevant to those grounds.
Matters do not usually get to the stage that the courts involvement is needed however, if a tenant does not leave by the notice date then the only way to physically remove the tenant is by making an application to court and later involving bailiffs. This can be quite an expensive and lengthy process but you will be able to discuss this with us if it gets to that stage.
Please note that due to an upcoming change in law, the procedures around Section 8 Notices is subject to change within the next year so it is best to get advice before issuing your tenant with a Section 8 Notice.