This page is for private renters.
We have different advice for council and housing association tenants facing eviction.
Coronavirus update: evictions are on hold
All court action for eviction has been put on hold until at least 23 August.
Your landlord can't get a court order to evict you until after that date.
What is a section 8 notice?
Your landlord can give you a section 8 notice if they want to end your tenancy and you're either an:
The notice is the first step in a process. Your landlord also needs to get a court order.
They can only do this if they have a legal reason or ‘ground’.
It usually takes 3 to 5 months until the bailiffs come. In some cases the court can stop an eviction.
More than one notice
Most private renters are assured shorthold tenants.
Your landlord might give you both a section 8 and a section 21 notice if you have this tenancy type. They can decide which one to use later when they apply to court.
They won't have to prove a legal reason for eviction if they use the section 21 eviction process.
Get legal help if you get any type of notice from your landlord. Call Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345
What should a section 8 notice look like?
The section 8 notice will say ‘notice seeking possession’ at the top.
The notice will tell you:
- what ground your landlord is using
- when they can apply to court
If your landlord doesn’t use the right form for the notice, or it doesn’t contain the right information it may be invalid.
The court won't make an eviction order if the notice is invalid. Typos won’t usually make a difference if you can understand the meaning.
Check the date
A section 8 notice tells you the earliest date that court action can start.
The notice period is 3 months if you're given a section 8 on or after 26 March 2020.
This is a new rule because of the coronavirus outbreak and will apply until at least September.
If you were given a notice before 26 March, the notice period was either 2 weeks, 4 weeks or 2 months depending which grounds your landlord included.
You should have been given 2 weeks' notice if your landlord was using a ground for rent arrears or late payment of rent.
The notice won't be valid if it doesn’t include a date or you're given the wrong amount of notice.
The notice will lapse 12 months after you get it unless your landlord starts court action within this time. If the notice has lapsed, your landlord will need to serve a new notice if they want to evict you.
Check the grounds
Part 3 on the notice will tell you which grounds your landlord is using.
There are 17 different grounds and your landlord may be able to use more than one.
The notice could be invalid if it doesn’t give the number of the ground or explain why it’s being used.
What to look out for
Grounds 1 to 8 are mandatory grounds. The judge must make an outright possession order if your landlord proves any of these grounds in court.
Ground 8 is the most common mandatory ground used by private landlords.
Your landlord can use Ground 8 if you owe at least 2 months’ rent both:
- when you get the notice
- at the date of the hearing
The court can't make an eviction order on Ground 8 if you owe less than 2 months' rent by the time of the hearing.
Grounds 9 to 17 are discretionary grounds. If your landlord proves one of these grounds, the court can decide if it's reasonable to let you stay in your home.
Discretionary grounds include:
- Ground 10 - any amount of rent arrears
- Ground 11 - late payment of rent
- Ground 12 - breaking a term in your contract
- Ground 14 - nuisance and antisocial behaviour
You can ask the court to stop the eviction if you can show you’re taking steps to resolve the problem and your landlord has used a discretionary ground.
If your landlord applies to court
Your landlord must apply to court for a possession order if they want to evict you after a section 8 notice.
Your landlord can't get a possession order at the moment because court action for eviction is on hold.
The court will send you:
- the claim form filled out by the landlord
- a 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
You have 14 days to return the defence form from when you get the paperwork.
Get legal help to complete the defence form. If you can't get help and don't know what to write, it may be better to take the information to the hearing instead.
The court hearing
It’s important to go to the hearing. It’s your chance to tell the court why you shouldn’t be evicted.
Arrive at least 30 minutes before your hearing. Most courts have a duty advice scheme. Ask for the duty adviser when you arrive. They can give you free advice and represent you in the hearing.
The hearing will normally last 5 to 10 minutes. It will usually just be you, the judge, the landlord, and their solicitor if they have one.
The judge will listen to both sides and either make a decision or say you have to come back for another hearing.
What the court can decide
The judge could dismiss the landlord’s claim if they decide that the ground doesn’t apply. For example, if the landlord can’t prove you’re in rent arrears.
If your landlord can prove a ground, the judge could make:
- an outright order - which sets a date for possession
- a suspended possession order - which allows you to stay in your home as long as you keep to conditions such as paying off arrears
The judge must make an outright order if your landlord proves a mandatory ground. For example, if Ground 8 is used and you're still in at least 2 months’ arrears.
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 towards your landlord's legal costs.
Eviction by bailiffs
Your landlord can apply for a bailiffs' warrant if you:
- stay after the date on an outright order
- don’t keep to the terms of a suspended possession order
You get a notice from the bailiffs which tells you when the eviction is due to happen.
The number will be on the letter.
You can only ask the court to stop the eviction at this stage if the order was made on a discretionary ground.
Find out what happens if the eviction goes ahead.
Last updated 08 June 2020 | © Shelter
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