Owning a rental property can be lucrative, but only if you have reliable tenants who pay their rent on time. If your tenants are in arrears with their rent payments or you’re having other issues with them, how can you make your rental property Section 8?
To evict your tenants with a Section 8 notice, you must first determine if you have grounds for it and try to resolve the issue amicably without serving notice. If not, check your tenancy agreement, gather evidence, and serve the Section 8 notice. The tenants will then have two weeks to move out.
Read on further for a step-by-step guide to serving a Section 8 notice on your tenants.
1. Determine if You Have Grounds for a Section 8
Before serving a Section 8 notice, you must determine if you have grounds for doing so.
Section 8 applies only to assured shorthold tenancy agreements and is not applicable if your tenants live in the same property as you. It also doesn’t apply to holiday lets, commercial rental agreements, and if you charge your tenant more than £100,000 annually.
Most UK rental agreements are shorthold, as long as the agreement was in place on or later than 15th of January 1989. It also doesn’t matter if you’re a private landlord or you use an estate agent.
If your tenant has broken one or more terms in the rental agreement, you can usually serve a Section 8 notice. The most common grounds include:
- Your tenant hasn’t paid rent for two or more months. This applies if your tenant pays a monthly rental. If they pay rent weekly, you can serve them with a Section 8 notice after eight weeks of not receiving payment.
- You want to live in the rental property. This doesn’t imply guilt on the tenant’s part. However, if you want to make the rental property your primary residence, you can use a Section 8 notice.
- Your tenant’s behaviour is disturbing the neighbours. This typically applies to anti-social behaviour. Examples include the tenants being too noisy and threatening or harassing the neighbours.
- The tenant has damaged or neglected property. Untidiness is not grounds for serving a tenant with a Section 8 notice. However, you can serve a notice if the home or garden is filthy, severely neglected, or damaged.
- The property is to be repossessed. If you are bankrupt or the property will be repossessed, your tenants will need to vacate it. However, this is only applicable if you took out the mortgage before signing the tenancy agreement.
- The tenant provided false information on the tenancy agreement. Examples include stating false income, incorrect names, or passport numbers. This is sometimes done inadvertently, but it’s usually clear if the tenant wishes to falsify or hide something.
- The tenant has lost their job, and employment was a condition of the tenancy agreement. Most rental agreements don’t have a clause specifying that the tenant must be employed to be able to afford the rent. However, if yours does, and your tenant has lost their job, you can apply for a Section 8 notice.
2. Have a Discussion With Your Tenants
Serving tenants with a Section 8 notice is a serious matter because you are requesting them to vacate the premises within two weeks. Depending on the reason for the Section 8 notice, a polite discussion might resolve the issue more effectively and prevent the matter from turning nasty and ending up in court.
It’s worth discussing the problem with your tenants before serving them with a Section 8 notice because if the issue ends up in court, the judge might want evidence that you tried to resolve the issue amicably and sent the tenant reminders.
Some tenants also don’t realise that their behaviour is problematic. For instance, noisy tenants might not know that they have been disturbing the neighbours, and a polite request for them to be more considerate might save you a lot of hassle. After discussing the problem with them, you should follow up with a written letter to confirm that you’ve had the discussion.
Unfortunately, polite requests don’t always work, and a Section 8 notice might be your only option.
3. Gather Evidence
Suppose you have had a polite discussion with your tenants and sent them weekly reminders about rent payments or other issues, but they are not rectifying the situation. In that case, it’s probably time to serve them with a Section 8 notice.
However, before doing so, gather the evidence in case the tenant requests it or the matter ends up in court. Examples include:
- Proof that you have consistently received late rental payments (i.e., bank statements).
- Photos of damage or neglect.
- A paper trail of communication with the tenant requesting them to be more considerate about making noise.
- Written complaints from neighbours.
It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t give your tenant any reason to challenge the Section 8 notice. This means ensuring that you’ve adhered to the tenancy agreement’s terms and have rectified issues for which you are responsible. An example could be servicing the boiler regularly or fixing structural issues.
4. Check Your Tenancy Agreement
After gathering the evidence, you should check your tenancy agreement because one of the clauses may specify how you must serve the Section 8 notice. Failure to serve it according to the rental contract could be grounds for the tenant to challenge it.
However, most tenancy agreements specify that a Section 8 notice must be served in person or through the registered post.
5. Send Your Tenants a Section 8 Notice
When you’re ready to complete the Section 8 notice, you must complete Form 3 (available on the government website). Take your time so that you are precise when completing the form because it will be invalid if any details are omitted or inaccurate. If unsure, you might wish to contact your letting agent or a property lawyer for advice.
You need to give your tenants two weeks to vacate the premises, with the eviction date being 14 days from the date you served the Section 8 notice.
Each person on the tenancy agreement must receive a form, and you’ll also need to complete Form N215, a certificate confirming that you have served the tenant with a notice to vacate the premises. If you serve the Section 8 notice in person, you might also consider bringing a witness with you.
6. Wait for Two Weeks
If, after the two weeks stipulated in the Section 8 notice, your tenants have not vacated the property, you can obtain a possession order from your local court for them to leave.
If you live in Wales or England, you can begin the process by completing an online form on the government’s website. You will need to register on the Possession Claim website and pay £355.
You must apply at the sheriff’s court if you’re based in Scotland and contact the Enforcement of Judgements Office if you live in Northern Ireland.
Making your rental property Section 8 is never a pleasant task, but if you’ve been unable to reason with your tenants, it might be your only option. By following the steps mentioned above, the process should be seamless and hassle-free.
Remember that a polite and honest discussion might resolve the issue without resorting to a Section 8 notice.