Eviction after a section 8 notice

This page is for private renters with an assured or assured shorthold tenancy 

We have different advice for council and housing association tenants facing eviction

What is a section 8 notice?

Your landlord can give you a section 8 notice if they have a legal reason to end your tenancy. For example, rent arrears.

Legal reasons for eviction are called 'grounds for possession' on the notice.

Your landlord must prove the grounds for possession in court.

The process takes time. Sometimes the court can stop an eviction.

Most private renters have assured shorthold tenancies. Your landlord may be able to use the section 21 eviction process instead or as well if you have this tenancy type.

How to check your notice is valid

A section 8 notice must give:

  • the right amount of notice

  • a date after which court action can start

  • the grounds for possession, and explain why they are being used

Check what a section 8 notice looks like on GOV.UK

An eviction can't happen unless the notice is valid and your landlord proves a ground for possession in court.

From 1 October 2021

Most section 8 notices must give at least 2 weeks' notice. For example, rent arrears.

Some grounds for possession have a longer notice period. For example, 2 months' notice if the original tenant has died and you can't keep the tenancy.

Longer notice periods during coronavirus

Notice periods were extended to help tenants during the pandemic.

Longer notice periods have now ended.

Many notices given before 1 October 2021 are still valid. Some can't be used unless your landlord has already started court action.

You can use our coronavirus notice checker to:

  • check you've had the right amount of notice

  • find out if your landlord can still use the notice

The notice is valid for a year

When the notice period ends, your landlord can apply to court.

Your landlord has a year from when you get the notice to start court action. After this the notice will run out and can no longer be used.

If you have rent arrears

Rent arrears is the most common reason for a section 8 notice.

Your notice will mention grounds 8, 10 or 11 if you're facing eviction for rent arrears.

Watch out for ground 8

Your landlord can use ground 8 if you have at least 2 months' arrears.

Try to reduce your rent arrears below this level by the time of the hearing.

The court must make a possession order if your landlord can prove at least 2 months' arrears both when you were given notice and on the date of the hearing.

The court can't order eviction on ground 8 if you owe less than 2 months' rent. They might still order eviction on another ground.

Breathing Space is a scheme that can help tenants with rent arrears. It pauses the eviction process for up to 60 days while you get debt advice.

Find out if you could get breathing space

Other grounds for possession

Check your notice to see if any other grounds are listed.

Other grounds that are sometimes used by private landlords include:

  • ground 12 - breach of tenancy agreement

  • ground 13 - damage to property

  • ground 15 - damage to furniture

With grounds 12, 13 and 15 the notice period depends on when you were given notice

Use the table to check the minimum notice rules for these grounds during the pandemic.

Date notice givenMinimum notice period
On or after 1 October 20212 weeks
Between 1 June 2021 and 30 Sept 20214 months
Between 29 Aug 2020 and 31 May 20216 months

There is no minimum notice period with ground 14 for antisocial behaviour. Your landlord could apply to court as soon as they give you the notice.

If your landlord starts court action

Your landlord can apply for a possession order once the notice period has ended.

You will get several letters and forms from the court. Keep them together in a file.

This table shows the main documents you should get before a court hearing.

Letters receivedWhat this means
Claim and defence formsYour landlord has applied for a possession order
Notice of possession hearingThe court has arranged a hearing for you to attend

Claim and defence forms

The court will send you a:

  • N5 claim form

  • N11R defence form

Read the claim form carefully. Look for any mistakes or anything you disagree with.

The defence form lets you tell the court why you shouldn’t be evicted. For example, if:

  • what the landlord says isn’t true

  • you can make an offer to repay rent arrears

  • you have a claim for compensation that will reduce any arrears

Get legal help to complete the defence form. You have 2 weeks to return it to the court.

If you can't get help and don't know what to write, court guidance says you could send a short statement to the court instead.

You should explain your situation and why a possession order should not be made.

Review dates

Until 1 November 2021 the court had to arrange a review date 4 weeks before a possession hearing under coronavirus rules.

This is no longer required but some courts may continue to schedule review dates.

A review date is not a possession hearing and you don't need to attend in person.

It is a chance to get free legal advice from a court duty adviser.

The court hearing

A hearing will usually be at your local county court 4 weeks after the review date.

Your notice of possession hearing tells you:

  • the time and date of the hearing

  • how to get free legal help on the day

Get legal advice before the hearing if you can.

You should always attend or let the court know if there's a very good reason why you can't. For example, sudden and serious ill health.

The hearing should only take about 15 minutes.

Follow any guidance from the court on arrival times, social distancing and face coverings.

When the judge could dismiss your case

The judge could dismiss the case if your landlord can't prove a ground for possession. For example, if you've paid off all your rent arrears.

They could also dismiss the case if your section 8 notice is not valid.

When the judge must order eviction

The judge must make an outright possession order if your landlord has used ground 8 and can prove that you had at least 2 months' rent arrears both when you were given notice and at the hearing.

They must also make an outright order if your landlord can prove any of the grounds 1 to 8.

An outright possession order sets a date for you to leave your home.

When the judge could let you stay if you keep to conditions

With grounds 9 to 17, the judge can consider if it's reasonable to evict you.

For example, if you have some rent arrears but your landlord has not used ground 8 or you've reduced your arrears to below 2 months by the time of the hearing the judge could make a suspended possession order.

A suspended order lets you stay in your home if you keep to conditions such as paying off arrears in set instalments.

The judge may still decide to make an outright order.

If the judge makes an order, you usually have to pay the court fees and some or all of your landlord’s legal costs. There are limits on how much you can be ordered to pay.

Eviction by bailiffs

Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home.

Your landlord can apply for bailiffs if you:

  • stay past the date on an outright order

  • break the conditions in a suspended order

They can use county court bailiffs or high court enforcement officers (HCEOs).

The bailiffs give you at least 2 weeks' notice of the eviction date.

You can only ask the court to stop the eviction at this stage if the eviction order was made on grounds 9 to17.

You can't ask the court to stop the eviction at this stage if your landlord got an outright order on ground 8, even if you clear the arrears.

Find out what happens if the eviction goes ahead.

Last updated: 12 November 2021

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