What is a Section 8 notice and when can landlords or letting agents use them?

7 June 2024

Now the Renters (Reform) Bill has not passed through Parliament, what does Section 8 mean for the private rental sector? Read our guide to find out more.


The government had plans to amend and strengthen Section 8 as part of the Renters (Reform) Bill. As the bill did not pass before the government dissolved for the general election, it has postponed any action with Section 8 for the private rental sector. 

The initial plan through the Renters (Reform) Bill was to strengthen Section 8 so it would be easier for landlords and letting agents to regain control of a property when Section 21 is outlawed. This would include regaining possession of a property from anti-social behaviour or selling.  

However, as the bill will not become law anytime soon, what does this mean for Section 8 and the private rental sector? 

What is a Section 8 notice?

A Section 8 notice, as part of the Housing Act 1988, is issued to end an assured tenancy and can help landlords to repossess their rental property from their tenants.

This type of notice is served when a landlord wishes to regain possession of their property, but it can only be issued if certain grounds are breached by the tenant.

This differs from a section 21 notice, commonly known as a "no-fault" eviction.

New call-to-action

How does a landlord or letting agent serve a Section 8 notice?

Landlords or letting agents, on behalf of their landlord, must serve a Section 8 notice by filling in a "Notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy" form. 

To serve this notice, a landlord or letting agent must know which terms of a tenancy agreement their tenant has broken.

If a landlord or letting agent is unsure, they should seek legal advice regarding serving a Section 8 notice, and what a notice period should be.

Worried about changes to the repossession process? Speak to our experts in  property protection.

When can't a letting agent or landlord use a Section 8 notice?

Section 8 notices can only be used for Assured or Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements. 

As of 4 May 2021, landlords or letting agents can no longer use a Section 8 notice if a tenant is in rent arrears during the breathing space period. However, a landlord can still use a Section 8 notice for rent arrears.

A landlord must have a valid reason to serve a Section 8 notice. If the landlord issues a notice that either includes incorrect details or does not include valid reasoning, tenants may challenge the notice in court. 

There are certain grounds landlords cannot use for fixed-term tenancies, so letting agents need to be aware of what can and can't be used when serving a Section 8 notice.

What grounds can be used for a Section 8 notice?

Landlords, or letting agents on behalf of their landlords, have 17 grounds for possession they can use to serve a Section 8.

The grounds are mandatory and discretionary, and a landlord must have evidence of any ground. 

Mandatory grounds

For the majority of mandatory grounds, the notice period for the tenant will be either two weeks or two months.

Mandatory grounds are the most "'concrete' reasons for eviction", and can lead to eviction. These grounds include:

  • Ground 1 - If the landlord lived in the rented property at some point before the tenancy began, and wishes to live back in the property
  • Ground 2 - If the mortgage provider wishes to repossess the property
  • Ground 3 - If a property was previously a holiday let, and since had been turned into a short-term tenancy for a minimum of eight months, and the landlord wishes to use it again as a holiday let
  • Ground 4 - If a property was let to a student by an educational institute for a fixed term of 12 months
  • Ground 5 - If the property is owned by a religious organisation and needs a minister of religion to live in
  • Ground 6 - If a landlord wishes to demolish or redevelop the rented property to the extent that the tenant cannot live there
  • Ground 7 - If a tenant has passed away, but this cannot be used if a surviving spouse is living on the property
  • Ground 7a - If the tenant has committed "serious anti-social behaviour"
  • Ground 7b - If the tenant does not have a Right to Rent in the property
  • Ground 8 - If a tenant is in more than eight weeks' rent arrears if their rent is paid weekly/fortnightly, or two months' rent arrears if it is paid monthly

Discretionary grounds

Discretionary grounds are more subjective in comparison to the mandatory grounds of Section 8. This means that letting agents or landlords will need to prove to the courts and state the reasoning for eviction.

Unlike mandatory grounds, the courts ultimately will decide whether those reasons are valid. 

Discretionary grounds include:

  • Ground 9 - If a landlord has provided accommodation that is like-for-like for the current tenancy
  • Ground 10 - If the tenant is in a rent arrears but is less than ground 8
  • Ground 11 - If the tenant is constantly late in paying rent, but is not in rent arrears
  • Ground 12 - If the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement, excluding rent payments
  • Ground 13 - If the tenant has deteriorated or neglected the landlord's property
  • Ground 14 - If the tenant is a nuisance or annoyance to neighbours, or using the property for illegal or immoral activity
  • Ground 15 - If the tenant caused damage to furniture provided by the landlord
  • Ground 16 - If the tenant renting the property was an employee of the landlord and the employment has finished
  • Ground 17 If the tenant was given the tenancy with a "false statement"

When can a letting agent or landlords use a Section 8 notice?

A landlord, or letting agent on behalf of the landlord, can issue a Section 8 notice at any point during a tenancy with any of the above grounds as reason. 

However, if a landlord believes there are multiple grounds on the same Section 8 notice, the longest notice period for how long a tenant has until they have to vacate the property typically applies.

What were 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."

The Conservative government planned to make many Section 8 eviction notice grounds mandatory. This was so "landlords [could] 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 planned to 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".

Courts would have also been allowed to consider individual circumstances when Section 8 is used.

Will letting agents and landlords ever see future changes to Section 8?

Prior to the announcement that the general election would be held on 4 July, the Renters (Reform) Bill was about to undergo its Committee stage debates in the House of Lords.

However, as the Bill did not pass into law before Parliament was dissolved for the election, the next Government will need to introduce a new Bill and pass it through both Houses of Parliament, to change the law.

The Conservative government planned to strengthen Section 8 notices to help landlords and letting agents after abolishing Section 21.

While it is not clear whether the Conservative Party or any other party, plans are with Section 8. The Labour Party have already mentioned their aim to abolish Section 21 if elected. 

This doesn't mean we'll never see further progression with Section 8 or Section 21 in the future. 

Landlords and letting agents will need to keep up to date with the manifestos of all the political parties, to understand their approach to the private rented sector, and how this may affect their business. 

This article is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, visit gov.uk.

Worried about changes to the repossession process? Speak to our experts in property protectionRead more about the white paper proposals at gov.uk.

New call-to-action

Further reading