If you are a landlord and you wish to recover possession of your property let out on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) in England and Wales, there are two ways of doing so, depending on the circumstances. You can use either:
- a Section 21 notice – which is used to legally terminate an AST at the expiry of the fixed term; or
- a Section 8 notice – which is used to terminate an AST during the fixed term where terms of the tenancy agreement have been breached.
Both notices to quit operate under their respective Sections of the Housing Act 1988.
Section 8 Notice Form - Order for Possession
The landlord cannot evict the tenant without first obtaining an order for possession from the court, but before applying to the court for such an order, the landlord must serve notice of his intention by using a Section 8 notice seeking possession. The Section 8 Notice (sometimes known as a Section 8 notice to quit or a Section 8 eviction notice) must be in the prescribed form and must specify the ground or grounds upon which the landlord seeks possession and the landlord's reasons for relying on those grounds.
The Housing Act 1988 provides certain grounds upon which a landlord may seek possession before the fixed term of the tenancy has expired. During the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy, the landlord can only seek possession if one of grounds 2, 7A, 8, 10 to 15 or 17 apply and the terms of the tenancy (normally as stated in the tenancy agreement) make provision for it to be ended on any of these grounds. Possession can be sought on ground 7B during a fixed-term of the tenancy even if the terms of the tenancy do not make provision for it to be brought to an end on this ground.
When claiming possession under Section 8, it is advisable to make use of all the grounds that apply. This is because some grounds are mandatory (which means that if a landlord proves that one of these grounds applies, the court has no choice but to award him possession) and some grounds are discretionary (which means that the court will only award possession if it is reasonable to do so).
The amount of notice required to be given to the tenant will depend on the grounds which are outlined in the section 8 notice.
Once the landlord has served the Section 8 notice on the tenant (which may be served by post or in person and where there is more than one tenant, the notice must be served on all tenants) the landlord must wait until the notice period has expired. This is the date given on the notice.
If the tenant has not left the premises or paid any rent arrears or remedied any other breach at the expiry of the notice period, then it will be necessary to start court proceedings for possession. This is done by using court forms N5 and N119, which are available from the court, and payment of the appropriate court fee. If a court is satisfied that a landlord is entitled to possession on one of the grounds noted, then the court will grant a possession order to take effect within 14 days.
Grounds for Seeking Possession
Ground 2: The property is subject to a mortgage which pre-dates the tenancy and the lender wishes to exercise its rights over the property, i.e. repossess it. A notice under this ground must be served before the creation of the tenancy.
Ground 7A: The tenant or someone living with him has been convicted of a serious offence, breached an injunction relating to anti-social behaviour or convicted for a breach of a criminal behavioural order.
Ground 7B:The Secretary of State has given notice in writing to the landlord which identifies the tenant or other person occupying the property as a person disqualified as a result of their immigration status from occupying the property.
Ground 8: At the date of service of the notice and at the date of the hearing, the tenant has not paid the rent, and either rent is payable weekly or fortnightly and at least eight weeks' rent is unpaid; or rent is payable monthly and at least two months' rent is unpaid; or rent is payable quarterly and at least one quarter's rent is more than three months in arrears. Note: When claiming possession under this ground, it is advisable to cite more than one ground since, if the tenant pays off part of the arrears shortly before the hearing, this ground can no longer be proved and possession proceedings will have to be abandoned. It is, therefore, common practice to cite more than one ground for rent arrears (i.e. grounds 8, 10 & 11), if applicable, and to also wait until at least two months' rent (or eight weeks in the case of a weekly tenancy) is unpaid before issuing the Section 8 Notice.
Ground 10: Any amount of rent is in arrears at the date of service of the notice and remains unpaid on the date on which the proceedings for possession are begun.
Ground 11: The tenant has repeatedly failed to pay rent.
Ground 12: The tenant has breached any term of the tenancy agreement (other than one relating to the payment of rent).
Ground 13: The property has deteriorated due to neglect by the tenant or by someone living with him and the tenant has failed to remove that person.
Ground 14: The tenant or someone living with him has caused a nuisance to neighbours, visitors or others in the locality or has been convicted of using the property for immoral or illegal purposes or has been convicted of an indictable offence committed in the locality.
Ground 14A: The property is occupied by a couple and one of them has left due to violence or threats of violence from the other partner or from a member of that partner's family who was living in the property also. This notice can only be used by a registered social landlord or a charitable housing trust. The tenant who has left must also be sent this notice.
Ground 15: The furniture has been ill-treated by the tenant or by someone living with him and the tenant has failed to remove that person.
Ground 17: 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.
This Section 8 Notice can be used in England and Wales by private landlords where one or more of the above grounds are being relied on.