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.
The government has released details in its Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper of how it plans to amend section 8 when it abolishes section 21 under the Renters' Reform Bill. These changes 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.
You can download a full overview of the proposals in our e-book, Renters' Reform Bill: Your guide to the "A Fairer Private Rented Sector" white paper.
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?
The government has shared that it 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 be come 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 move 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 government will therefore introduce a new ground to allow 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.
A ground to sell the property
The government will 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.
The new grounds mean 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".
How will existing grounds change?
Notice periods on the existing rent arrears eviction ground to increase
The notice period for existing rent arrears eviction ground will increase to four weeks, and the current mandatory threshold of two months' arrears at time of serving notice and hearing will not change.
However, tenants that receive scheduled welfare payments which may fall outside this threshold will be given more protection from eviction. "We will prevent tenants in this scenario from being evicted, provided it is the reason they have exceeded the mandatory rent arrears threshold," says the white paper.
Changes to 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.
Please note this is intended as a guide only and is not exhaustive. Read more on the recommendations at gov.uk.