Once completed the Section 8 notice must be served on the tenant personally or by post sent with recorded delivery.
Once the tenant receives the notice, the landlord must wait until the date specified in the notice has expired. If the tenant is still in arrears 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 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:
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
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 (eg because the tenant raised an important issue, the paperwork isn’t in order or evidence from both parties is needed).
Where 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 a lot on how busy the local courts are. However, it is usually 6 to 8 weeks.
In a possession claim (unlike other claims) if a defendant does not file a defence, this does not mean the landlord automatically ‘wins’. However, the court can take that failure into account when deciding what to do.
At the hearing, the court may:
dismiss the case (ie 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)
Note that 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.
When 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 by completing Form N325 and the court will send a bailiff to evict the tenant.
If you need help with sending your section 8 notice or applying to the court, Ask a lawyer.