A Section 8 notice is served by a landlord on a tenant when they want to take early possession of a property during the fixed or periodic term of a tenancy.
Unlike Section 21, which is a no blame route, Section 8 is more commonly used by the landlord when the tenancy has been breached, usually for rent arrears. Another difference to Section 21 is that a Section 8 can be served at any point during the tenancy. The landlord can technically serve such a notice on day one of the tenancy, for example if the tenant was being anti-social. That said, such a situation would require a landlord to have sufficient evidence to convince a judge that the tenant’s behaviour warranted them being evicted, which is somewhat unlikely after one day of the tenant occupying the property!
Has the coronavirus crisis affected how a Section 8 is served?
In short, yes. The Government brought in legislation on 26 March 2020 that has amended the notice period for a Section 8 notice. The period has been increased from a minimum of fourteen days (for rent arrears) to a minimum now of three months. Obviously, this will have a negative effect for a landlord, as a tenant could rack up significant debt before the landlord had the chance of commencing legal proceedings.
What are the rent arrears criteria for issuing a Section 8?
In theory you could serve notice if the tenant were one day late with their rent, but it is most likely to be used when the tenant has fallen into arrears of at least two months (if the rent is payable monthly). To calculate two months in arrears, that would be two rent-due days missed. For example, if rent was due on 1 May and 1 June, then if rent was not paid on those two dates, a landlord could serve notice under Section 8 on 2 June, giving the tenant three months’ notice that the landlord has the right to commence court proceedings should the rent not be brought up to date by the expiry date of the Section 8.
How do you complete a Section 8 notice?
If you have never completed a Section 8 notice then it will appear daunting at first glance. It is jam-packed full of references to legislation and compliance requirements, which many a landlord would not easily understand without some professional help. However, once the landlord gets past such language (which in all honesty is only used to frighten the landlord) then the majority of the detail required to complete the notice should already be in the hands of the landlord ie. name and address of the parties and rent arrears levels.
The Section 8 notice template is referred to in legal terms as a prescribed form. This simply means that the notice used must be the form prescribed in law and failure to do so is likely to result in any such notice served being deemed invalid by the courts. It is important to note that the person completing the form should ensure they have read and followed the instructions carefully, to include using black ink and block capitals where demanded.
Finally, any authorised person can complete and sign the form on behalf of the landlord, which could include a solicitor or the landlord’s agent. They will need to insert their details in block capitals on the form and include their contact address and telephone number.
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