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What does a Section 8 Notice mean?

The section 8 route is usually issued by a landlord where the tenant landlord relationship breaks down.

This is often issues when there is some default on the part of the tenant from the terms of the Tenancy Agreement and the landlord wishes to gain possession before the end of the fixed term tenancy agreement. This procedure and notice operate under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, and, for this reason its called a Section 8 notice. Its usually used for non-payment of rent, but any breaches of the terms of the tenancy agreement can also precipitate possession proceedings such as damage to the property, nuisance to neighbours to names a few. The landlord, or his agent, MUST show adequate evidence or proof of the default before it will order the tenant to move out of his rented home.

The notice must specify grounds why the landlord requires possession as there are 17 grounds which a landlord may use to recover possession under section 8 (see below). The landlord is required to specify in the notice which ground he intends to use, and also to give particulars of the ground which applies, to support his claim. A Section 8 notice may be served by post or in person. If there is more than one tenant, the notice must be served on all tenants. The courts will recognise the day of postal service as the day on which the letter would normally have arrived. There are normally significant delays involved in the standard court possession procedure and so can take up to 2 months before a landlord could possibly regain possession.

It is important, to note the court will exercise its discretion with a Section 8 notice when it comes to possession, whereas with a Section 21 possession is mandatory.

In rent arrears cases, it is normally straightforward to prove default (by supplying a rent schedule detailing the missing payments) whereas in other cases (damage or noise nuisance), it will be important to show that the tenant is in breach of his tenancy agreement, and carefully record the damage or complaint in the possession claim.

The different Grounds of a Seciton 8 Notice

Ground 1: that the landlord intends to live in the property as his only or principal home.

Ground 2: that the mortgagee is claiming possession.

Ground 3: that the tenancy is a holiday let and was previously let for a holiday

Ground 4: that its a student let and was previously let by an educational establishment to students

Ground 5: that the property is held for use by a minister of religion

Ground 6: where the landlord intends to redevelop the property.

Ground 7: that the former tenant has died (unless there is a person with a right to succeed).

Ground 8: that the tenant owed at least two months' rent (in the case of a monthly tenancy) both when the landlord served notice that he wanted possession and still owes two months' rent at the date of the court hearing. If the rent is payable weekly, quarterly or yearly the ground requires that there are rent arrears of eight weeks, three months and six months respectively. Ground 8 is the most powerful ground to use. However, as a tenant if you pay off part of the arrears shortly before the hearing the ground can no longer be proved and thus the possession proceedings will have to be abandoned. However, its often used with ground 11 and other grounds together as a more powerful case.

Ground 9: that suitable alternative accommodation is available - a discretionary ground

Ground 10: that the tenant was behind with his rent when the landlord served notice that he wanted possession, and when he began court proceedings

Ground 11: that, even if the tenant was not behind with his rent when the landlord started possession proceedings, he has been persistently behind with his rent.

Ground 12: that the tenant has broken one or more of his obligations under the tenancy agreement.

Ground 13: that the condition of the premises or any of the common parts has deteriorated because of the behaviour of the tenant, his subtenant, or any other person living there.

Ground 14: that the tenant or someone living in or visiting the property has been guilty of conduct which is, or is likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to neighbours. Or that a person residing or visiting the dwelling house has been convicted of using the property, or allowing it to be used, for immoral or illegal purposes or has committed an arrestable offence in, or in the locality of, the dwelling house.

Ground 15: that the condition of the furniture has deteriorated because it has been ill-treated by the tenant, his subtenant, or someone living there.

Ground 16: that the tenant was granted the property in order to properly fulfil her employment duties and is no longer employed by the landlord.

Ground 17: that the landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by either the tenant or a person acting at the tenant's instigation