Legal 101

Update on Section 8 Notices

Amber Akhtar
·
June 1, 2021
Update on Section 8 Notices

Update on Section 8 Notices


On Tuesday 4 May 2021, the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force, which provides a temporary period of relief from creditors, to help individuals in England and Wales with debt problems.


The Government has introduced a new prescribed Section 8 Notice (Form 3) which also came into force on Tuesday 4 May 2021. The amended form is available on the Government’s website and can be found here. This form is used by landlords where they wish to repossess a property let under an assured tenancy, an assured agricultural occupancy or an assured shorthold tenancy, in accordance with one of the grounds in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988. The form must now include details of the Breathing Space Scheme. 


The previously available form is now out of date and any Section 8 notice served between 29 April - 3 May bank holiday will be deemed to have been served on 4 May 2021, which means any notice served during this time period will be invalid and as such landlord’s will need to serve the new prescribed Section 8 notice again. 


Tenants in the Debt Respite Period

Many tenants may not be able to pay their rent, especially those hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and may ask for a Breathing Space. The Debt Respite Scheme prevents landlords from chasing unpaid debts, allowing tenants a “Breathing Space” to find a solution and bring their finances in order.  


Standard Breathing Space


  • Any tenant with a debt problem may apply for the Standard Breathing Space and will protect the tenant for up to 60 days.
  • Debts cannot be pursued if the individual is in a Debt Respite Period. This means no calls, texts, emails or reminders in relation to the outstanding debt. This applies even in the case of joint tenants. 
  • A Section 8 notice cannot be issued for Grounds 8, 10 or 11 (Rent Arrears) but can be issued for other grounds. 
  • The landlord cannot charge interest on money owed.


Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space


  • A tenant undergoing treatment for a mental health crisis may last for as long as the tenant is undergoing treatment in addition to 30 days. 
  • Debts cannot be pursued if the individual is in a Debt Respite Period. This means no calls, texts, emails or reminders in relation to the outstanding debt. This applies even in the case of joint tenants.
  • Debts cannot be chased until 30 days after the period has ended if there is a mental health issue. 
  • A Section 8 notice cannot be issued for Grounds 8, 10 or 11 (Rent Arrears) but can be issued for other grounds. 
  • The landlord cannot charge interest on money owed.



Any tenant may apply for the Breathing Space if they are unable to meet their debts, a specialist debt advisor authorised by the FCA will decide whether to award the breathing space. In regards to mental health application, an Approved Mental Health Professional will need to confirm the applicant is undergoing treatment. 


Landlords will receive a notification via email or post if a tenant has been granted Breathing Space. The notification will confirm when the Breathing Space begins and will allow Landlords to monitor when the Breathing Space ends, so they are able to take action again. Landlords cannot contact the tenant during this period unless it is in relation to any other matter i.e. repairs or maintenance. 


The tenant will still be responsible for paying the full amount once the Breathing Space ends as the Debt Respite Scheme will only apply to arrears built up in the past. Current rental payments will still be payable as the Debt Respite Scheme is not a form of payment holiday. 

Updates to the Section 8 Notice (Form 3)


The new prescribed Section 8 Notice (Form 3) came into force on Tuesday 4 May 2021 and has been updated. The previously available form provides incorrect information in regards to notice periods. The amended form reflects the changes to possession procedures made by the new regulations, it makes it clear that court proceedings cannot begin earlier than 6 months from the date the notice is served except for serious cases.  


Serious cases include anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse in the social sector, false statement, rent arrears to the value of 6 months’ rent, tenant death and where the tenant doesn’t have the right to rent under immigration laws. 


Landlords must detail the specific grounds they are using to seek possession of the property. See Table 1 below for the minimum notice a landlord needs to provide for each ground. 


If the case involves Ground 14 (anti-social behaviour), Ground 14A (domestic violence) or Ground 7A (conviction of a serious offence), then the notice period for these grounds will apply even if other grounds are being used. Where the landlord relies on multiple grounds (not including Ground 14 or Ground 7A) the notice will be the higher of the notice periods in relation to the grounds being relied on. 


Landlords can apply to the court for a possession order if the tenant does not leave by the date specified in the form as the earliest date on which possession proceedings can be brought. 


The form must now include details of the Breathing Space Scheme. Notice under Grounds 8, 10 or 11 cannot be served to the tenant where the tenant has advised the landlord of the Breathing Space unless permission has been sought from the county court where legal proceedings for the debt have begun or could be issued. 

If you would like to create an up-to-date section 8 notice, read our detailed section 8 notice tutorial.


GROUNDS

MODIFIED NOTICE PERIOD

(from 29/08/2020)

DEBT RESPITE SCHEME

(Is the Landlord Restricted?)

Mandatory (judge must award possession if the ground is met)

  1. Landlord taking property as their own home

 

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

2. Mortgage property

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

3. Holiday Let

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

4. Property let to an educational institution

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

5. Housing for a minister of religion

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

6. Refurbishment

6 months

 

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

7. Death of the tenant

3 months

 

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

7A. Serious anti-social behaviour (conviction for serious offence)

4 weeks (periodic tenancy)

 

1 month (fixed term tenancy)

 

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

7B. Service on landlord of notice by Secretary of State in respect illegal immigrants

 

3 months

 

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

8. Serious rent arrears

  1. 4 weeks where the arrears are at least 6 months
  2. 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months.

Landlord is restricted from serving notice until Breathing Space has expired.

Discretionary (judge can decide to award possession if the ground is met)

9. Alternative accommodation

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

10. Rent Arrears (at the time of service of notice and possession proceedings)

  1. 4 weeks where the arrears are at least 6 months
  2. 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months.

Landlord is restricted from serving notice until Breathing Space has expired.

11. Persistent late payment of rent

  1. 4 weeks where the arrears are at least 6 months
  2. 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months.

Landlord is restricted from serving notice until Breathing Space has expired.

12. Breach of tenancy agreement

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

13. Tenant deteriorated property

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

14. Anti-social behaviour (nuisance, annoyance, illegal/immoral use of property)

None- proceedings may be commenced immediately after service of notice.

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

14A. Domestic abuse (social tenancies only - where victim has permanently left the property)

 

 

2 weeks

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

14ZA. Rioting

2 week

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

15. Tenant has deteriorated furniture

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

16. Employment

6 months

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

17. False statement

2 weeks

Landlord is not restricted and may serve notice.

With the introduction of the Breathing Space Scheme, landlords must be careful when serving notice under the amended Section 8 form. The notice cannot be served for rent arrears and late payments if the tenant has been granted a Breathing Space and if not, court proceedings cannot begin earlier than 6 months from the date the notice is served except for serious cases. However, tenants should be aware that the Breathing Space is not a form of payment holiday as it only applies to arrears built up in the past.


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