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Section 8 - Grounds For Eviction

Section 8 – Grounds For Eviction

Taking the professional tenant eviction route may sound expensive to many UK landlords, but it can actually work out to be the cheaper option because professional tenant eviction specialists, like Legal 4 Landlords, know what they’re doing and work fast.

Many landlords try to tackle the eviction process themselves by serving a Section 8, but there a few details that must be 100% accurate and many landlords attempting to evict tenant’s themselves unknowingly serve an invalid notice, consequently delaying the entire eviction process, which ultimately may result in more lost rent for the landlord.

A Section 8 notice to quit, sometimes referred to as a Section 8 possession notice has to be completed and served correctly on the tenant(s) of the rental property, allowing the landlord to seek possession of the rental property from the tenant during the term of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).

The Section 8 notice needs to show that the tenant has breached the conditions of the tenancy agreement, any term or condition of the tenancy agreement that is seen to have been broken constitutes a breach. The most common type of breach is the non-payment or late payment of rent, however, damage to the property, unsociable conduct, and subletting are also grounds for a possession order.

To make a Section 8 form valid, the landlord must state which grounds the tenant has breached according to Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988

All Section 8 forms require the landlord to specify the grounds they are citing as reason for eviction.

These grounds for possession, under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, fall into 2 main categories and are listed below

  • Mandatory Grounds – this covers Grounds 1 to 8 and if one of these grounds is cited on a Section 8 form the court must grant possession to the landlord.
  • Discretionary Grounds – this covers Grounds 9 to 17 and in these cases the court will only grant possession if it feels it is reasonable to do so.
Ground Short Description
Ground 1 The landlord requires the property in order to use it as their main residence. This ground can only be used if the landlord used the property as their main residence prior to the tenancy beginning.
Ground 2 The mortgage lender on the property has served notice to foreclose. In this case the mortgage in question has to predate the start of the tenancy.
Ground 3 The property was previously used as a holiday let and is required to return to the status of holiday let. For the exact conditions that apply to this Ground please see the Housing Act 1988.
Ground 4 The property is being let by an educational institution and is now required by students of the educational institution. Written notice that this may happen must be served before the tenancy begins.
Ground 5 The property is owned by a religious body and they require possession for a member of their church i.e. a Minister of Religion.
Ground 6 The landlord wants to demolish and reconstruct, or redevelop all or part of the property. The tenant needs to have refused to live in all or part of the property while work is carried out for this ground to be feasible. If granted the landlord is required to pay all reasonable moving costs to the tenant.
Ground 7 The current tenant is a tenant heir and is not named on the original tenancy agreement. The landlord must serve a Section 8 notice within 12 months of the death of the named tenant.
Ground 8 The tenant has failed to pay more than 8 weeks rent in the case of weekly payments, 2 months in the case of monthly payments or 1 quarter in the case of quarterly payments. Ground 8 is often cited in conjunction with Grounds 10 and 11 so that a partial payment by the tenant just prior to the court hearing doesn’t render the possession order obsolete. 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 9 Suitable accommodation of the same type and quality has been offered to the tenant and refused. The landlord is required to pay all reasonable removal costs if possession is granted.
Ground 10 The rent is in arrears but by no more than 8 weeks in the case of weekly payments, 2 months in the case of monthly payments and 1 quarter in the case of quarterly payments.
Ground 11 The tenant is repeatedly late with payments or repeatedly fails to pay their rent until prompted by the landlord.
Ground 12 The tenant has breached any of the terms listed in the tenancy agreement.
Ground 13 The tenant has neglected or damaged the property, or they have sublet the property to another individual who has neglected or damaged the property.
Ground 14 The tenant is considered a nuisance to neighbours or other tenants and has received complaints concerning their conduct.
Ground 15 The furniture listed on the property inventory has been misused, damaged, broken or sold by the tenant or any individual living with them.
Ground 16 The property was let to the tenant as a condition of their employment but the employment has now come to an end.
Ground 17 The property was let on the basis of false information provided by the tenant or one of their referees/ guarantor.
Grounds For Eviction

Grounds For Eviction

How much notice is given in a Section 8?

  • The amount of notice a landlord is required to give differs according to the grounds they are citing on the Section 8 form. Ground 2 for example, requires a minimum of 2 months’ notice but grounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 only require 2 weeks’ notice.

What happens after the Section 8 Notice has been served?

  • All Section 8 forms must clearly state the date on which the notice expires. This is the date that the tenant has to have paid their rent arrears by, or have vacated the property by, and in nearly 80% of cases the tenant leaves or pays before this date arrives.
  • If the tenant refuses, the landlord can start court possession proceedings on the day following the date cited on the Section 8 form.
  • To do this the landlord has to acquire forms N5 and N119 from their local county court and pay the appropriate court fee. This then starts the process of gaining a possession order.

Will a Section 8 guarantee that a possession order will be granted?

  • In simple terms, NO!.
    The likelihood of being granted a possession order is dependent on the Grounds cited on the Section 8 form, and as mentioned earlier some grounds are mandatory while others are discretionary.
  • Grounds 2 and 8 are always granted the order but the circumstances surrounding the other grounds are carefully considered by the court before a decision is made.
  • The evidence of the landlord and any evidence submitted by the tenant is looked at closely and factors such as hardship and extenuating circumstances suffered by the tenant are taken into consideration.
  • If a possession order is granted it normally takes effect within 14 days, but in cases of true hardship on the part of the tenant this can sometime be extended to six weeks.

Tenant eviction can be a bit of a minefield for the uninitiated landlord and the safest and fastest way to evict a tenant is to use a tenant eviction specialist, like Legal 4 Landlords who take care of all the paperwork and appoint trained legal teams to deal with the hassle.

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Eviction numbers increase as tenants struggle with finances

Evictions for Rent Arrears Increase by 10.2% This Year

County court closures are being blamed for prolonging tenant rent arrears eviction hearings

The number of tenants in severe financial difficulty has climbed by 10.2% in the first quarter of this year according to the latest tenant arrears tracker by Templeton LPA, part of the LSL Property Services plc Group.

Almost 8,800 more tenants were over 8 weeks in arrears and facing the threat of eviction than there were in the last quarter of 2011.

In the first quarter of 2012, an average of 94,400 tenants in England and Wales were in severe arrears, an increase of 20% compared to the same period in 2011.

The figures were affirmed by specialist landlord service provider, Legal 4 Landlords, who handle an average of 20 tenant evictions per day across the UK.

Legal 4 Landlords spokesman Sim Sekhon said: “At the current rate of growth, the number of PRS tenants facing arrears greater than 8 weeks will climb above 100,000 in the next quarter. Tenants have been facing increasing financial pressures due to the state of the economy and the rising cost of living and unfortunately landlords without rent guarantee insurance have been suffering the most”.

Although severe rent arrears cases have continued to increase, PRS tenancies in severe arrears only represented 2.4% of all properties in the private rental sector (PRS) in England and Wales in the first quarter of 2012.

Overall tenant arrears have improved, with 9.3% of all rent either late or unpaid by February 28th, a decrease from 10.7% at the end of 2011.

Paul Jardine, director and receiver at Templeton LPA, said: “While the general tenant population has absorbed the rising cost of renting in the last two years, a minority of tenants are facing severe financial difficulties, a minority that is growing. These tenants have been pushed into deeper and deeper arrears by a combination of rising living costs, high rents and a weak labour market, and are now months behind with the rent cheque. In turn, these severe rental arrears figures have been inflated by the ongoing impact of county court closures. The closures have prolonged arrears cases, with landlords less able to gain court dates to quickly remove non-paying tenants. This is creating a backlog of tenants in extreme arrears, increasing the amount of rental income lost for landlords or their appointed receivers of rent. Despite the recent surge in severe arrears cases, overall tenant arrears have performed remarkably well given the challenging economic environment. In fact, as we often see at this point in the year, more financially robust households are now paying down post-Christmas debt and putting their finances in order, which is helping to reduce the overall level of tenant arrears.”

The annual growth in tenant arrears has been matched by a yearly rise in the number of tenants being evicted by court orders.
In the last quarter of 2011 some 24,702 tenants faced eviction notices, an increase of 9% on the 22,634 in the last quarter of 2010, although the figures reported are 4% lower than they were in the third quarter of 2011.

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