Having only great tenants is every Tameside landlord and Tameside letting agent’s dream. The reality however is this dream doesn’t always come true. With the removal of Section 21 threatening to impose further implications should tenancies turn sour, there are still alternative routes to take in order to right the wrongs.
Tenants in Tameside have the absolute right when renting to live in a well-maintained property that is free from disrepair and dilapidation. Additionally they have the absolute right to be treated with respect from their landlord; but this also works both ways.
I’ve witnessed many circumstances where one party or another believes they can exercise their rights or even totally eradicate them; all over a simple matter.
If a tenant falls hugely into arrears and fails to pay their rent, this is ultimately a breech of contract one way or another; as is showing lack of care or respect for a landlord’s property by causing damage and showing disrespect.
Many tenants have shared their glee at the Government’s intention to remove Section 21, with many landlords I have spoken to sharing their concern and some even selling up their stock to other investors and backing out of the sector.
It needn’t be like this however.
The whole removal of Section 21 and even the notion of nightmare tenants make up a tiny minority of Tameside tenancies; particularly when managed by myself on behalf of Tameside landlords. But in the event of self-managing landlords or landlords with letting agents who care about the £ signs and not your property, then action needs to be taken.
As it stands, the Section 21 process should be quicker if the tenancy is at an end and all the correct
documentation has been served on the tenant. Upon removal of Section 21 however, Tameside landlords will be left with only with the possibility of repossession through a Section 8. This currently requires rent arrears or another breach of tenancy and a court hearing, but does provide
the landlord with an order for any rent arrears as well as possession.
Understanding the difference between Section 8 and Section 21
Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 is one of two routes coded in legislation with which a landlord can repossess their property. Section 21 is often the preferred option as it usually takes less time from notice to repossession, but it also saves the landlord the need for court hearings and proceedings which can be expensive. The biggest distinction, however, stems from the significantly lower legal conditions under which a landlord can serve a possession notice.
Section 8 requires a landlord to serve a notice only if a tenant has done something wrong, often rent arrears or a breach of tenancy. Court proceedings usually precede the final outcome, which can be either for or against the landlord.
In comparison, Section 21 is served at either the end of or at the break clause of a tenancy, with no reason needed to end the tenancy. As long as 8 weeks’ notice is given from notice to possession and the correct procedure has been followed, a Section 21 notice is a straightforward way for landlords to reclaim property.
When can Tameside landlords issue a Section 8?
Put very simply, a Section 8 notice is usually issued when a tenant has broken certain terms of their tenancy agreement and thus, has breached the contract they have formed with their landlord. Most commonly, these are:
• Non-payment of rent for over 2 months
• Carrying out illegal activity on the premises
• Antisocial behaviour
• Property has deteriorated due to neglect by the tenant
• Furniture has deteriorated due to neglect by the tenant
• Tenants, or someone acting on behalf of a tenant, has given false information related to the tenancy.
• The tenant has breached any part of the tenancy agreement
There are other conditions which, when met, provide sufficient grounds for Section 8 to be used by a landlord to repossess their property. These are the grounds set out by schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988. Note that there are other grounds which could also lead to possession, but cases filed under such grounds do not always lead to successful repossession for the landlord, even when the court is satisfied that the notice is valid and the conditions are met.
How soon can a notice for seeking possession be issued after court proceedings?
Whereas Section 21 needs to be issued at the end of a tenancy, or at the break clause, Section 8 can be served at any point during a tenancy agreement, with as little as 2 weeks’ or 2 months’ notice.
The time required for a notice of seeking possession (NSP) depends on the grounds on which possession is sought. In some cases, the court can dispense with this time requirement if it is deemed just and equitable to do so. It should be noted that although it may seem like Section 8 is the route a landlord should take when they have an urgent need to repossess their property, the additional court proceedings Section 8 requires often means that the timeline is unpredictable. No one can precisely tell how long the courts will take to process your individual case. Another important note here is that the judge’s possession order can take effect during or after the tenancy term depending on the specific ground(s) being relied on.
How to issue a Section 8 notice correctly
When serving a Section 8 notice, you should fill out the standard form issued by the government, (which at the time of writing this blog, is Form 3: notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy). They key questions on this form are questions 3 and 4. Landlords are asked what the grounds for possession are, and the full explanation of the tenant’s actions (or inactions) that have resulted in the notice being issued.
Generally, you can serve the tenant by giving the completed form to them directly, putting it through the door of the rental property concerned in the tenancy agreement, or sending it by first class post. The tenant(s) must sign and return a copy to you as the landlord.
A copy of the notice should also be sent to any guarantors if there are any on the tenancy agreement. Landlords should always keep a copy of the notice served along with a record of the date and method of delivery, the name of the person who served it and any witnesses. Once the NSP specific to the ground on which your Section 8 notice has lapsed, you can then file proceedings in court. This can be done online through this link, or you can download the form and submit it in person at your local county court. Unfortunately, a timeframe on how long the court will take to decide on your claim is usually not available when you submit your claim form. This is the dreaded wait which has put off many landlords from using Section 8 and has swayed them into using Section 21.
There is yet to be a date dedicated for the removal of Section 21, so Tameside landlords are still able to use them as an option in the rare circumstance of needing to repossess a property in the event of a tenancy turning sour. Alternately, a Section 21 has the potential to be avoided entirely by ensuring the best tenant for your Tameside investment property, complete with transparent and caring management services that create and sustain a healthy and happy relationship between landlord and tenant. For more information on this in Tameside, give me a call on 07709 505442.