Section 8: Your guide to the proposed changes
The government has confirmed that it will outlaw section 21, and has published details of how it plans to strengthen section 8 in response.
LAST UPDATED: 24 October
The government has released details in The Renters (Reform) Bill of its plans to amend section 8 when it abolishes section 21. These proposals aim to make it easier for landlords and letting agents acting on their behalf to regain control of their properties when section 21 is outlawed.
The government has also confirmed that "responsible" landlords will be able to regain possession of their properties from anti-social tenants and sell their properties when they need to.
With delays coming to implementing Section 21, it is unclear what the new timelines will be for strengthening section 8.
Here's what's expected to change for section 8:
- What is a section 8 notice?
- What are the proposed changes to the grounds for section 8 and possessions?
- What new grounds will be introduced?
- How will existing grounds change?
What is a section 8 notice?
A section 8 notice is issued to end an assured tenancy, and can help landlords to repossess their rental property.
This type of notice is served when a landlord has authority to regain possession of their property, but it can only be issued if certain criteria are breached by the tenant. This differs from a section 21 notice, which is commonly known as a "no-fault" eviction.
What are the proposed changes to the grounds for section 8 and possessions?
In the government's 2022 A fairer rented sector white paper, it stated its aims to reform section 8 grounds so that they are "comprehensive, fair, and efficient, striking a balance between protecting tenants’ security and landlords’ right to manage their property."
Many of the section 8 eviction notice grounds will become mandatory, meaning that "landlords can have certainty that the grounds will be met when going to court" and that "judges must grant possession if the landlord can prove that the ground has been met."
The government will work with the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) to target the bottlenecks in court proceedings, and strengthen mediation and alternative dispute resolution to "enable landlords and tenants to work together to reduce the risk of issues escalating".
What new grounds will be introduced?
A ground to sell the property
The government will also introduce a new section 8 ground for possession for when the landlord wants to sell a property. However, landlords again will not be able to apply this ground in the first six months of a tenancy.
A ground for repeated serious arrears
Landlords can currently regain control of their property if the tenant is over the prescribed period of outstanding rental payments.
However, landlords have found this ground difficult to use, because tenants can currently reduce their arrears to just below the prescribed threshold to avoid appearing at court, which meant the landlord needed to begin the possession claim process from the beginning.
Instead, the Renters (Reform) Bill sets out that that eviction will be mandatory if a tenant has been in at least two months’ rent arrears three times within the previous three years, regardless of the arrears balance at hearing.
This will support landlords, but also reassure tenants that they can't be evicted based on "one-off financial shocks that occur years apart".
A ground to ensure compliance with enforcement action
This applies if a tenant takes enforcement action, such as a banning order, against the landlord, and the landlord is no longer allowed to let the property.
Grounds for agricultural workers, and changing employment criteria
The government has recognised that certain jobs require special treatment, to ensure they're prioritised based on their job requirements and location. As such, new grounds to evict a tenant to make way for agricultural workers, and certain key workers or those on a specific income bracket, will be created.
Grounds for supported accommodation and homelessness duty
Supported accommodation is for tenants that need care, support, or supervision. If a property that was previously used as supported accommodation is needed again for that purpose, this new ground will apply.
A similar ground will also apply to ensure that the tenancies are "safe for residents with particular needs, that the support being provided is suitable or to maintain the viability of schemes."
Sometimes private landlords can also offer temporary accommodation to people "owed the main housing duty." It's up to the local authority to end the duty, and that's when the landlord can regain possession.
How will existing grounds change?
Evictions for antisocial behaviour
For criminal or serious antisocial behaviour, notice periods will be lowered, and the government will look into issuing further guidance to help landlords and tenants resolve any issues at an earlier stage. The government is also looking at expanding the definition to encompass "a wider set of behaviours."
Moving into the property
Under the current law, a section 8 notice can be served if the landlord wants to move into the property to live in as their own home but not children or other family members. The landlord or their partner must have also previously lived at the property.
The new ground allows for landlords and their close family members to move into a rental property. Landlords won't be able to use this ground in the first six months of a tenancy - similar to the existing restrictions on when section 21 can be used.
The ground for student accommodation
This ground can currently be applied for a fixed-term tenancy of not more than 12 months, if, during the 12 months beforehand, the property was a student let not on an assured tenancy status.
However, the ground will be amended to remove reference to fixed terms as well as the requirement for landlords to give prior notice to the tenant to use this ground.
The ground for Ministers of Religion
Landlords can use this ground if the property is needed to house a minister of religion. The ground will change so that landlords will no longer need to tell their tenants that this ground may apply.
The ground for redevelopment
Landlords currently need to show that they plan to demolish, reconstruct, or extensively redevelop the property - and it's not possible to do so with the tenant still occupying the property.
Under the Renters (Reform) Bill, this ground can only be applied after the six month mark for a tenancy. A landlord that's authorised to acquire the property by a compulsory purchase order is exempt from this change.
The ground for the death of a tenant
If a tenant dies, the tenancy may be passed onto another person. Landlords will now have 24 months to start possession proceedings, instead of 12, allowing more time for succession.
The ground for rent arrears
Your landlord can only use this ground if the tenant has arrears of:
- 2 months, when rents are paid monthly
- 8 weeks, when rents are paid weekly
- 3 months, when rents are paid quarterly or yearly
The ground will be amended so that landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants if their rent arrears are due to a delay in receiving their Universal Credit payments.
This article is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, visit gov.uk.