What Every Landlord Ought To know About Serving a Section 8/21

 

One of the questions I often get asked by landlords is “how do I get my tenant out!”

This is one of the main concerns for most landlords; in a recent survey of nearly 4,000 private landlords, 52%  said they had what they define as a bad tenant and 68% said they had tenants who were late or non-payers of rent!

So, the question is how do you ensure you have served notices correctly? Firstly, you must follow strict procedures if you want your tenant to leave your property. In many cases you can resolve the issue providing you have open lines of communication with your tenant, N.B. you can’t be seen to be harassing the tenant as this may affect any future proceedings.

Let’s assume the above has not been successful and it’s clear the tenant has no intention of leaving. You need to issue your notice correctly, which notice you serve depends on the situation. You can serve a Section 21 notice if you want the property back after the fixed term ends. Serve a Section 8 if they have broken the terms of the tenancy.

With regards to serving a Section 21, in March 2015 the Deregulation Act (DA) was passed, the below relates to any tenancy post September 2015. Many landlords now take a cautious approach as to when they can serve a Section 21. Whilst there are strict procedures to follow, possession can be gained providing you have followed the correct steps. The list below is not exhaustive but covers the main points in brief:

  1. Any deposit taken should be registered with an authorised scheme i.e. Deposit Protection Service, failure to do so can result in the landlord been fined!
  2. The tenant should have been provided with a Prescribed Information regarding any tenancy deposit. In order to serve a valid Section 21 you must of protected the deposit, or not taken one.
  3. The DA also introduced provisions regarding Retaliatory Evictions. The provisions restrict the landlord from serving a Section 21 where the tenant has complained about the condition of the property and the landlord has not adequately responded within 14 days.
  4. You cannot serve a Section 21 in the first four months of a tenancy – this used to be common practice!

The above relates to the DA but you should also have the following in place;

  1. A copy of the EPC, this should have been given to the tenant at the start of the tenancy
  2. A copy of the Gas Safety Certificate supplied to the tenant – if there is gas at the property
  3. Provide the tenant with the Government Approved “How to Rent” guide.
  4. Must provide a clear two months’ notice, this often catches people out so be sure on your dates, I tend to not send notices by recorded delivery and hand deliver in all cases.

 

Serving a Section 8, this can only be issued to a tenant who has breached the terms laid out in the tenancy agreement, the most common is for rent arrears. There are 17 grounds on which a Landlord can seek possession of a property. A common mistake made is to only serve on one ground; you can serve on several grounds. In cases of rental arrears, I will serve on the following (not exact wording):

  • Ground 8 – Tenant is in 2months arrears; the problem with only serving on this ground is you are giving the tenant the opportunity to get themselves out of two months arrears prior to the hearing by just paying a nominal amount!
  • Ground 10 – Rent was owed at the time notice seeking possession was served.
  • Ground 11 – The tenant has been repeatedly late with rent payments.

As I have mentioned there are 17 grounds and I recommend that you make use of the grounds; 1-8 are Mandatory, grounds 1-5 are also prior notices.  9-17 are discretionary grounds but can help support your case.

The best thing to do prior to serving any notice is complete a checklist, this will ensure you have all the relevant paperwork in place.

If you would like more information please do not hesitate to contact me 0121 550 1384

Ian Mclaughlin (Author)