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What are section 8 eviction notices?

A Section 8 notice is an eviction notice that can be used in specific circumstances. It is a notice given by a landlord to a tenant informing the tenant that the landlord wants possession of the property and will be applying to the court for an order for possession (ie that they’re evicting the tenant).

A section 8 notice can only be used where certain legal grounds apply. However, unlike a section 21 notice (another type of eviction notice), a section 8 notice can be served at any time during the course of an assured shorthold tenancy. In other words, provided certain legal grounds apply, a section 8 notice can be used to end a tenancy early (ie before the end date specified in the original Tenancy agreement) or after the end of a fixed term (this is when a section 21 notice may be served). A section 8 notice must be served on the tenant before the landlord can apply for a court order. 

Can I end a tenancy for any reason?

A landlord can only end a tenancy early using a section 8 notice if one or more of the reasons listed in the Housing Act 1988 apply.

There are 17 grounds in total, but most landlords want to end the tenancy because the tenant has stopped paying rent and is still at the property or because they have damaged the property without repairing it 

What are the section 8 notice grounds for eviction?

Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 sets out 17 grounds for possession. Some grounds are mandatory (ie the courts must make a possession order if a mandatory ground is proven) while others are discretionary (ie the courts may make a possession order if a discretionary ground is proven).

Mandatory grounds for possession

The mandatory grounds for possession are: 

  • Ground 1 - the landlord needs possession of the property as they wish to occupy the property as their main home or they  previously occupied the property as their main home (even if they don’t intend to do so now)

  • Ground 2 - the property is subject to a mortgage and the mortgagee (ie the lender, like a bank) is now selling the property

  • Ground 3 - the tenancy has a fixed term of a maximum of 8 months and the property was used as a holiday let in the 12 months before the current tenancy

  • Ground 4 - the tenancy has a fixed term of a maximum of 12 months and was used as a student letting excluded from assured tenancy status

  • Ground 5 - the property is held by a minister of religion to perform their duties and it is now required for occupation by a minister of religion

  • Ground 6 - the property requires redevelopment

  • Ground 7 - the tenant has died 

  • Ground 7A - the tenant has engaged in antisocial behaviour as defined in the Housing Act 1988

  • Ground 7B - the tenant doesn’t have a right to rent and is disqualified from renting the property due to their immigration status

  • Ground 8 - the tenant is in serious rent arrears of a certain minimum

Discretionary grounds for possession

The discretionary grounds are:

  • Ground 9 - suitable alternative accommodation is (or will be made) available to the tenant

  • Ground 10 - the tenant is in rent arrears at the time the section 8 notice is served at the time court proceedings start

  • Ground 11 - the tenant is persistently late making rent payments

  • Ground 12 - the tenant broke their obligations under the Tenancy agreement (other than the obligation to make rent payments)

  • Ground 13 - the tenant’s behaviour caused the property (or common parts) to deteriorate 

  • Ground 14 - the tenant is causing a nuisance, causing annoyance, or making illegal or immoral use of the property

  • Ground 14A - the tenant is violent or making threats of violence towards their partner who they are living with, whether they are married, in a civil partnership, or cohabiting (this only applies in certain circumstances) 

  • Ground 14ZA - the tenant is convicted of an indictable offence (ie an offence that must be tried in the Crown Court and which carries a prison sentence) that took place during a riot

  • Ground 15 - the tenant’s behaviour caused the landlord’s furniture to deteriorate

  • Ground 16 - the tenant occupies the property due to their former employment by the landlord

  • Ground 17 - the tenancy was granted because the tenant made a statement which turned out to be false

For more information on the different grounds for possession, including applicable notice periods, see Shelter’s guidance on the mandatory and discretionary grounds for possession. 

If you’re unsure whether any of these grounds for eviction apply, Ask a lawyer. If none of the section 8 grounds for eviction apply, you may be able to evict the tenant using a Section 21 notice. For more information, read Repossessing property - section 21 notices.

The most common grounds for possession

Generally, the most common grounds for section 8 evictions relate to the non-payment of rent. The applicable eviction grounds are Grounds 8, 10 and 11. 

Aside from issues relating to rent payments, section 8 notices often also relate to damage to the property. Here Ground 13 should be used.

Ground 8

Ground 8 is a mandatory ground. The court must make a possession order in 14 days provided that, when the notice is served and at the time of the hearing, it is satisfied that there are:

  • at least 8 weeks of arrears, where rent is payable weekly or every 2 weeks

  • at least 2 months of arrears, where rent is payable monthly

  • more than 3 months in arrears, where rent is payable every 3 months

  • more than 3 months in arrears, where rent is payable yearly

Grounds 10 and 11

Other grounds for rent arrears are Grounds 10 and 11, however, the court does not have to grant a possession order for these grounds. However, these grounds should always be included alongside Ground 8 as a fallback, where applicable:

  • Ground 10 applies if rent is unpaid when the section 8 notice is served and is also unpaid at the start of the possession proceedings

  • Ground 11 applies if the tenant has regularly been late at paying rent, whether or not the tenant is actually in arrears at the time the notice is served or proceedings are started

Ground 13

Ground 13 can be used as a ground for repossession if the tenant has damaged the property. Under Ground 13, damage to property includes damage to any common areas to which the tenant has access in the building in which their property is located. You should note that a tenant will be deemed to have damaged the property if they allow someone living with them (eg a sub-tenant) to cause damage.

What happens after a section 8 notice is made?

Once completed, the section 8 notice must be served on (ie delivered to) the tenant. This should be done using the means outlined in the tenant’s tenancy agreement. It will generally involve the notice being: 

  • handed to the tenant in person

  • posted through the property letter box, and/or 

  • sent by mail (using recorded delivery)

A landlord may be prevented from serving an eviction notice for a period if their tenant is in a debt enforcement moratorium under the Debt Respite Scheme (ie a Breathing Space). 

Once the tenant receives the notice, the landlord must wait until the date specified in the notice has expired (ie the notice period). If the criteria for the relevant ground(s) are still applicable by this point, the landlord may apply to the court for an order for possession. This is done by filing Form N5 and Form N119 with the court. 

If the landlord is seeking possession only on Grounds 8, 10 and/or 11, they can submit their court application online using the government's Possession Claim Online service.


Once the court has approved the landlord's application, they will usually send the tenant a:

  • copy of the landlord's claim form and particulars 

  • defence form (ie Form N11R)

This will give the tenant a chance to defend the claim. The tenant typically has 14 days to:

  • give the court an explanation of their situation

  • provide reasons why they should be allowed to stay in the property, and/or

  • say that information from the landlord is wrong 

The court will then decide whether to issue a possession order or if a hearing is required. A hearing may be required if, for example, the tenant raised an important issue, the paperwork isn’t in order, or evidence from both parties is needed.

If a hearing is required, the court will fix a date and time for the first hearing and notify all parties. How soon the first hearing will be depends on how busy the local courts are. However, it is usually 6 to 8 weeks after the date is fixed.

Unlike other claims, a claimant in a possession claim (ie the landlord) does not automatically ‘win’ if a defendant (ie the tenant) doesn’t file a defence. However, the court can take the tenant’s failure into account when deciding what to do.

At the hearing, the court may: 

  • dismiss the case -  the hearing will end and no order will be made, typically because the court finds that there is no reason to evict the tenant or the landlord has not followed the correct process 

  • adjourn the hearing - ie move the hearing to a later date, usually because the judge believes that a decision can’t be reached that day

  • make an order - ie make a decision regarding what should happen

If the case is dismissed by the court the tenant will be allowed to remain in the property. If the landlord still wishes to evict them, they must restart the court process.

Possession order

If the court issues a possession order, the tenant must leave the property by the date given in the court order. The possession date is usually 14 days after the date the court makes the order. If the tenant refuses to leave by that date then the landlord must apply to the court for a warrant of possession. They can do this by completing Form N325. The court will generally then send a bailiff to evict the tenant. For more information, read Enforcement of possession orders.

If you have any questions about the section 8 repossession procedure, Ask a lawyer. If you need help sending your section 8 notice or applying to the court use our Tenant eviction service.

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