Section 8: a guide to grounds-based evictions
In rare circumstances, tenants will breach the terms of their tenancy agreement in such a way that their landlord will have no choice but to regain possession through an eviction notice. A Section 8 'grounds-based' eviction notice is typically used in cases where there are significant rent arrears or serious antisocial and/or criminal behaviour. To regain vacant possession using a grounds-based eviction, a valid Section 8 notices must be properly provided to tenants in writing with at least two weeks' notice and details of the grounds according to which the property is being repossessed.
To learn more about Section 8 eviction notices, check out our FAQ guide down below.
What is Section 8?
A Section 8 is a grounds-based eviction notice used to end assured shorthold tenancies. COVID-19 regulations had changed the minimum notice period for Section 8 notices to a few months, but as of October 1, 2021, the minimum notice period reverted back to the standard two weeks. Landlords must follow the proper procedure and timeline through the courts for the eviction notice to be deemed valid.
What grounds are there for serving Section 8?
Although the most commonly cited reason for a Section 8 notice is rent arrears, there are 17 official grounds that can be claimed by the landlord. Grounds 1 to 8 are mandatory, meaning the court must grant the landlord possession of the property if the landlord can submit appropriate evidence. Grounds 9 to 17 are discretionary and are contingent on the court’s judgement on whether or not an eviction will be granted.
The 17 Grounds for Section 8 evictions are:
- Ground 1 - The landlord wants to use the tenanted property as their main residence and has used the property as their main residence before.
- Ground 2 - The property has been repossessed by the landlord’s mortgage lender. For Ground 2 to be valid, the mortgage must have been taken out before the start of the tenancy.
- Ground 3 - The landlord wishes to use the property as a holiday rental once more. Ground 3 requires the tenanted property to have been used as a holiday let in the last 12 months and for the current tenancy not to exceed eight months.
- Ground 4 - The educational institution that lets the property requires the repossession of the property to provide housing for its students. The possibility of possession under these grounds must be stated in the original tenancy agreement.
- Ground 5 - A religious institution requires property repossession to provide housing for its members.
- Ground 6 - The landlord requires repossession of property because the tenant refused to live on the property during its reconstruction and redevelopment. Landlords may be responsible for providing the tenant with any reasonable moving costs.
- Ground 7 - Landlords can utilise Ground 8 when the tenant whose name appears on the tenancy agreement has died and the deceased tenant’s heir moved into the property without appearing on the lease.
- Ground 7A - Landlords can apply for a Section 8 eviction due to the tenant’s antisocial behaviour. Antisocial behaviour must be qualified by at least one of five conditions: serious offence, breach of injunction to prevent nuisance or annoyance, breach of criminal behaviour order, closure order, and noise nuisance.
- Ground 7B - Ground 7B allows landlords to evict the tenant if it is discovered that they do not have the right to rent due to their immigration status.
- Ground 8 - One of the most commonly cited grounds, this applies when the tenant owes a substantial amount of rent arrears, depending on payment schedule. For weekly payments, at least eight weeks of rent arrears are due. For monthly payments, at least two months of rent arrears are due. For quarterly payments, at least one quarter of payment is due.
- Ground 9 - The landlord wishes to repossess property after the tenant refused to move into a provided alternative accommodation.
- Ground 10 - Rent arrears are due by the tenant but do not surpass the amounts mentioned in Ground 8.
- Ground 11 - The tenant is consistently late with rent payments.
- Ground 12 - The tenant has breached some terms in the tenancy agreement other than rent.
- Ground 13 - The tenant, or the tenant’s subtenant, has created substantial damage or neglect to the property.
- Ground 14 - The tenant has received multiple nuisance complaints from surrounding neighbours.
- Ground 15 - The property’s furniture has been damaged or sold by the tenant without permission from the landlord.
- Ground 16 - A tenant’s living arrangement was provided to them through their employer and now that the employment has ended, the landlord wishes to repossess the property.
- Ground 17 - The tenant provided the landlord with false information on which the let was agreed, such as falsified employment or guarantor details.
How do you serve Section 8?
For a Section 8 notice, landlords are required to fill out Form 3 in writing and provide tenants with a copy. The form must include the tenant names, property address, grounds for the eviction, and the exact date tenants must leave by. Landlords must give at least two weeks’ notice.
How long does the process take?
The Section 8 eviction process can take anywhere between two weeks to a few months. If the landlord has valid mandatory grounds for eviction, the process will move along faster as the eviction is less likely to require a lengthy court hearing. For discretionary grounds, the court may require more evidence to make a decision.
The timeline of the eviction will also depend on the cooperation of your tenants. If your tenants refuse to move out by the date provided, you will need to apply for another eviction date with the County Court Bailiff which can take up to a few months.
How much does it cost?
The cost of a Section 8 eviction will vary based on any necessary court action that might need to be taken. County court evictions will take more time but cost less compared to High Court evictions.
The average cost of serving a Section 8 or Section 21 notice is £99 plus VAT. However, the total cost of a county court eviction will cost £1,330, with a high court eviction costing £2,200. This is when taking into account the cumulative costs of serving notice, possession order, and bailiff enforcement.
Can I get any help with the costs?
Public funding is mostly only available to provide financial backing for tenants. The National Residential Landlords Association successfully campaigned for £65 million in COVID-19 funding for rent arrears through the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities. Funding will be distributed to councils throughout England. The National Residential Landlords Association has been campaigning for an extension of financial resources for landlords as well.
How do I ensure my notice is valid?
For a Section 8 eviction notice to be valid, landlords must provide tenants with the proper notice period as well as an explanation of grounds for possession and the date after which potential court action can take place.
What happens if the tenants don’t leave?
If tenants do not leave by the assigned date, the landlord can apply for a possession order. The possession order will result in a hearing, in which the judge will provide a ruling on the matter. An order for possession may be granted that requires tenants to leave the property by a newly assigned date, usually 14 or 28 days after the hearing.
The court may issue a suspended order for possession, allowing tenants to stay in the property if they continue with timely payments. The court can also order the tenants to pay a money order to the landlord for their rent arrears, court fees, and legal costs.
If the tenant is ordered to leave the property and does not do so by the specified date, the landlord can apply for a warrant for possession, through Form N325 or by registering on the Possession Claim Online Service. If a warrant is issued, a bailiff will evict your tenants. Landlords can also transfer the warrant from the county court to the High Court for a faster eviction, by applying for a writ of possession.
Landlords utilising Section 8 eviction notices must ensure they are providing tenants with the proper forms, a clear explanation of the grounds for eviction, and the minimum notice period. Improperly filling out the eviction notice may result in the court’s dismissal of the entire eviction process. Evictions should only be considered as a last resort in worst-case scenarios, reserved for the most serious tenancy issues.
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