Providing Notice to your Tenants: the Options

For Landlords who rent their property, one of their concerns will be how they can reclaim possession of their property should it be required. Many tenants will be on Assured Shorthold Tenancies, which allow the tenant to occupy the property for a fixed term for the payment of rent, subject to a number of obligations. These tenancies have two specific procedures to bring them to an end, the Section 8 Notice, and Section 21 Notice.

The Section 8 and Section 21 procedures follow broadly the process of, a written statutory notice followed by, if applicable, court proceedings. However, in all other respects the procedures are different, and care must be taken to follow the correct procedure.

The Section 21 Notice is sometimes referred to as “no fault eviction.” This procedure can be used by Landlords who want to regain possession of the property, without stipulating a reason by giving 2 months written notice in a prescribed form. There are a number of requirements that Landlords have to comply with before a notice is valid, so Landlords, or their solicitors must be careful to ensure these are complied with before Court proceedings are issued. Failure to do so will invalidate the notice.

There has been a lot of talk in the media during the last few months about the Government wanting to abolish Section 21 Notices, and it remains to be seen whether this proposal will return after the 2019 General Election. However, as of November 2019, Section 21 Notices remain an option available to landlords.

The other option, which is also open to Landlords with tenants on Assured Shorthold Tenancies, is the Section 8 Notice. Unlike the Section 21 Notice, the Section 8 notice requires the Landlord to give a reason. Schedule 2 of the Housing Act divides these reasons into mandatory grounds and discretionary grounds. If the Landlord seeks a mandatory ground, and the Court agrees, there is no alternative open to the Court but to award possession. Conversely, if a discretionary ground is sought, then it is up to the Court to determine whether to award possession if the criteria for that ground is supplied. It is therefore advised that Landlords try to use both a mandatory and a discretionary ground where possible to maximise the chances that the Court will award possession. The Notice period for a Section 8 Notice varies depending on the grounds on which the Landlord wishes to rely but can vary from 2 weeks to 2 months.

In all cases, failure to comply with a Section 21 or a Section 8 Notice does not give the Landlord the ability to forcibly evict a tenant if they fail to comply. If the tenant remains in occupation and refuses to leave, the only option available to the Landlord is to seek a possession order from the County Court.

Evicting a tenant can seem like a simple process, but Landlords must be careful to ensure they comply with all the procedural requirements. The Courts take compliance with these requirements extremely seriously and failure to do so can result in the notice having to be re-served and the process delayed by several months. At Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP we regularly advise both Landlords and Tenants of the process, and we also assist in drafting the notices and representing clients in any possession proceedings.

For more information, or to book a 1-hour fixed fee consultation for £95, please contact Chris Miller on 01189589711 or e-mail chris.miller@barrettandco.co.uk

Further reading

What to do if the tenant doesn’t leave?

TOLATA claims: what are they?

Unregistered Land – A Cautionary Note

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