Your landlord may use a section 8 eviction notice to evict you but you may be able to challenge it in court.
What is a section 8 eviction notice?
Your landlord can give you a section 8 notice when they want to end your assured shorthold tenancy. They can do this at any time during your tenancy, including during a fixed term.
Landlords can give you a section 8 notice if you:
- have rent arrears
- are involved in criminal or antisocial behaviour
- break other terms of your tenancy agreement like damaging the property
Your landlord may prefer to use the simpler section 21 eviction procedure if they can. They could give you a section 8 notice and a section 21 notice at the same time.
Section 8 eviction process
Your landlord must send you a notice of seeking possession using Form 3 or a letter with the same information. It must include the reasons for eviction.
Depending on the reason your landlord wants to evict you, the notice period will be either 14 days, 4 weeks or 2 months.
The notice is valid for 1 year after the date it was served.
2. Applying to court
Your landlord can apply to court for a possession order after the notice period ends.
The court will send you papers which include:
- a defence form
- details of the court hearing date
- any evidence your landlord has submitted
You must complete and return the defence form within 14 days. You can use it to explain your situation. You can also provide your own evidence.
3. Court hearing
A judge will hear the case at a court hearing.
The hearing is your opportunity to explain your situation and present your evidence. You can attend the hearing even if you don't submit a defence form.
It helps the court if you attend the hearing and provide information in advance if possible.
4. Court decision
The court can decide to:
- dismiss the case (this means you can stay)
- order you to leave (usually in 14 days, but you can ask for longer)
- postpone or suspend a possession order
A suspended or postponed possession order allows you to stay in your home provided you follow certain terms. For example, that you follow a repayment plan for rent arrears.
If you break the terms of this agreement, your landlord can bring the case back to court.
You are usually told the decision on the day. If you don't attend the hearing, the court sends you a letter with their decision.
Your landlord can ask the court for an eviction warrant if you don't leave by the date set out in the possession order.
How to defend a section 8 eviction
Decide if you have a case
You may be able to successfully challenge a section 8 eviction, for example if:
- the notice isn't valid
- your landlord can't prove you owe rent arrears
- you have evidence that disproves your landlord's case
Get legal advice
It's important to talk to a legal adviser if you want to defend a section 8 notice.
An adviser can:
- tell you if you have a case
- make you aware of any risks or costs involved
- help you fill in a defence form
If you claim benefits or have a low income, you may qualify for legal aid to help pay for legal advice or representation.
Complete and return the defence form
You must complete and return the defence form within 14 days. You can use it to explain your situation and why you shouldn't be evicted.
Include any evidence that could help the court make a decision, for example:
- bank statements to show when you paid your rent
- a job offer letter that shows you can now afford to pay arrears
Attend the court hearing
The court hearing is your chance to explain your situation to the court.
You can bring a solicitor or legal representative with you. Most courts have a legal adviser on duty for tenants who don’t have a representative. Contact the court in advance to ask about this.
If you need more time, you can explain to the court why leaving in 14 days would cause you problems.
The court will make its decision based on the evidence submitted by your landlord if you haven't submitted a defence form and don't attend the hearing,
If you win your case, the court usually doesn't order you to pay court costs.
You will usually have to pay court costs if you lose your case.
Reasons for eviction
Your landlord must prove to the court that they have 'grounds for possession'. These are legal reasons to evict you.
Rent arrears is the most common reason for landlords serving a section 8 notice.
It's used if you have rent arrears of at least 2 months (if you pay rent monthly) or 8 weeks (if you pay rent weekly).
You must have rent arrears on both the following dates:
- when your landlord gives you notice
- when the case is heard in court
Rent arrears count as a 'mandatory ground' for possession. This means if your landlord can prove you are in arrears, the court must order you to leave, usually in 14 days.
Some common reasons landlords give when using a section 8 count as discretionary grounds.
Common discretionary grounds include if you:
- regularly pay rent late
- breach your tenancy agreement
- damage your landlord's property
- are involved in antisocial behaviour
Your landlord has to prove the grounds and the court also decides if it's reasonable to evict you.
Still need advice?
Last updated 08 Feb 2018 | © Shelter
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