Legal 101

What are the grounds for serving a section 8 notice?

Lorraine Dindi
·
September 7, 2021

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A Section 8 Notice starts the legal process for a landlord to end an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) and repossess the property, even during the fixed term. There are 17 grounds on which this notice can be served, which are listed in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988. The notice period for a Section 8 Notice varies depending on which ground the landlord is relying on. This article explores these grounds, many of which are notably situations where the tenant is in significant breach of their tenancy agreement.


Ground 1: Landlord taking property as their own home

This ground is used when a landlord wants to move into the rental property to live in as their own main permanent home. It applies when a landlord (or one of several joint landlords) previously lived in the property as their only or main home. It also applies when a landlord needs the property for them or their spouse to live in as their main or only home. Notice period is usually 2 months but under current COVID-19 laws, it is 4 months long. 


Ground 2: Mortgage property 

If a property was subject to a mortgage before the start of the lease, and the mortgage lender needs vacant possession of the property to exercise a power of sale, this ground can be used. Notice period is usually 2 months but under current COVID-19 laws, it is 4 months long. 


Ground 3: Holiday let 

This ground is used when the property was used as a holiday let anytime within 12 months of the tenancy starting, and the term of the present tenancy is less than 8 months long. A holiday let is a property which is specifically rented out for the purpose of a holiday. Notice period is usually 2 weeks but under current COVID-19 laws, it is 4 months long. 


Ground 4: Property let to an educational institution

This ground is used when the property was used as student accommodation anytime within 12 months of the tenancy starting, and the term of the present tenancy is less than 12 months long. Student accommodation is a lease granted to a person studying at a specified educational institution, and the property is usually owned by that institution itself. Notice period is usually 2 weeks but under current COVID-19 laws, it is 4 months long. Notice period is usually 2 months but under current COVID-19 laws, it is 4 months long.


NOTE A: Grounds 1 through to 5 are “prior notice grounds” which means that in order to rely on one of these grounds, a landlord needs to notify the tenant in writing before the start of the tenancy that in the future they may try to repossess the property on that specific ground. It remains possible for a judge to waive this prior notice rule for a Ground 1 or Ground 2 repossession application where it is just and equitable to do so.


Ground 6: Refurbishment 

When a landlord wants to demolish, reconstruct, redevelop or carry out significant works on part of all of the property, and cannot reasonably do so with the tenant still living on the premises, then this ground may be used. There are some additional rules on when this ground can be used. While the landlord does not have to find the tenant alternative housing, they have to cover reasonable removal costs. Notice period is usually 2 months but under current COVID-19 laws, it is 4 months long.


Ground 7: Death of the tenant 

This ground is when the tenant themselves has died and someone else has inherited the tenant. Court proceedings for repossession must start within 12 months of the tenant dying or the landlord becoming aware of the tenant’s death. Notice period is 2 months long.


Ground 7A: Serious anti-social behaviour

This absolute ground for possession applies where one of the conditions below are satisfied.  Notice period is 1 month long.

  • Condition 1: The tenant or anyone living in/visiting the property is convicted of a serious offence under Schedule 2A of the Housing Act 1985. 
  • Condition 2: The tenant or anyone living in/visiting the property breached an injunction to prevent nuisance or annoyance (IPNA).
  • Condition 3: The tenant or anyone living in/visiting the property is convicted of breaching a criminal behaviour order which bans a certain activity.
  • Condition 4: A closure order (court order prohibiting access to certain premises) is issued against the property and the tenant is banned from the property for over 48 hours. 
  • Condition 5: The tenant or anyone living in/visiting the property is convicted of an offence under section 80(4) or 82(8) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 due to breach of an order related to noise nuisance. 

Ground 7B: No right to rent 

This ground applies when the landlord has been served a notice by the Home Secretary that one or more of the tenants in the property has no right to rent due to their immigration status. Notice period is 2 weeks but if all the tenants have no right to rent, then this ground doesn’t apply and the landlord needs to give them at least 28 days’ notice to leave. 


Ground 8: Serious rent arrears

This ground is used when there is a significant amount of unpaid rent by the date the Section 8 Notice is served and the date of the hearing. If rent is due weekly or fortnightly, at least 8 weeks’ rent must be unpaid. If rent is due monthly, at least 2 months’ rent must be unpaid. If rent is due quarterly, at least 3 months’ rent must be unpaid. If rent is due annually, at least 3 months’ rent must be unpaid. Notice period is usually 2 weeks but under current COVID-19 laws, it is 2 months long when under 4 months’ rent is in arrears and 4 weeks long when over 4 months’ rent is in arrears. 


NOTE B: Grounds 1 through to 8 are “mandatory” grounds for possession, which means that a judge must grant possession (issue an eviction) if a ground is met. Conversely, the grounds below i.e. Grounds 9 though to 17, are “discretionary” grounds for possession, meaning that even if a ground is met, a judge can decide not to grant possession if they see it unreasonable to do so. 


Ground 9: Alternative accommodation 

This ground is used when alternative accommodation will be made available to the tenant if an eviction is granted, and the landlord will cover reasonable removal costs. Notice period is usually 2 months but under current COVID-19 laws, it is 4 months long.


Ground 10: Rent Arrears

This ground is used when any amount of rent is in arrears on the date the Section 8 Notice is served and the date of the hearing. Notice period is usually 2 weeks but under current COVID-19 laws, it is 2 months long when under 4 months’ rent is in arrears and 4 weeks long when over 4 months’ rent is in arrears.

Ground 11

This is a ground for when the tenant has persistently delayed paying rent which has become lawfully due. This ground can be served whether or not any rent is in arrears on the date on which proceedings for possession are begun, and can be served:

  • 4 weeks where arrears are at least 4 months
  • 4 months where arrears are less than 4 months
  • From 1 August 2021- 2 months’ notice where arrears are less than 4 months

Ground 12

Ground 12 can be served if there is a breach of the tenancy agreement which means that an obligation of the tenancy (excluding the payment of rent) has been broken or not performed. The notice for ground 12 is 4 months.

Ground 13

Ground 13 can be served with 4 months’ notice if the tenant has deteriorated the condition of the rented property which includes premises and common parts the tenant might have access to. The deterioration of the property must be due to waste, neglect or default of the tenant or any other person residing in the property. If the deterioration is caused by waste from a sub-tenant or lodger, the tenant must have taken reasonable steps to remove them.


Ground 14

Ground 14 is used when the tenant or a person residing or visiting the property has been guilty of causing or likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to the landlord, a person residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality. Ground 14 can also be served if the tenant or person residing or visiting the property has been convicted of using the property or allowing it to be used for immoral or illegal purposes. The proceedings for evicting a tenant under ground 14 may be commenced immediately after service of notice.


Ground 14A

Ground 14A can be served with 2 weeks’ notice and can be used for social tenancies where one partner has left and is unlikely to return because of violence or threats of violence by the other partner. 


Ground 14ZA

Ground 14ZA can be served with 2 weeks’ notice in England when the tenant or an adult residing in the property has been convicted of an indictable offence which took place during, and at the scene of, a riot in the United Kingdom.


Ground 15

Ground 15 can be served with 4 months’ notice if the tenant has deteriorated furniture provided for use under the tenancy.


Ground 16

Ground 16 can be served with 4 months’ notice when the tenant was an employee of the landlord and obtained the property as part of employment, but is no longer an employee.


Ground 17

Ground 17 can be served with 2 weeks’ notice when the tenant or a person acting at the tenant’s instigation has knowingly or recklessly provided a false statement used by the landlord to grant the tenancy.


How to serve a section 8 notice?

When serving a section 8 notice, a landlord or agent acting on their behalf, must fill in a Form 3 specifying the grounds for seeking possession of the property. If multiple grounds are used (but not ground 14 or ground 7A), the notice will be the higher of the notice periods relevant to those grounds.


Landlords can then apply to the court for a possession order if the tenants do not leave by the date specified in the served form 3.


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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.


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