The Section 8 possession process falls under the Housing Act 1988 and allows landlords to reclaim their property back if their tenant has breached terms laid out in the tenancy agreement. However, although the process was created to benefit landlords who wish to terminate housing contracts early, many feel that there are certain unnecessary challenges they must face before a successful possession claim and some have spoken out to say that the process should be made easier.

 

What is section 8 notice?

Section 8 requires landlords to go to court if they wish to regain possession of a property which they are renting out to a tenant. If they have a good enough case, the courts will allow the landlord to have possession following the serving of a section 8 notice. These claims of repossessions usually occur when the tenant is continually breaching terms in the contract they have signed, such as being in arrears. When issues such as rent being overdue occur, landlords usually aim to win a section 8 claim as the process often seems like it is going to be quicker – however the entire process itself can pose some risks.

 

What are the problems with Section 8 for landlords?

Although the possession process can work in a landlord’s favour and provide them with their property back and the opportunity to find a more suited tenant, the case is sometimes not very easy to win – even if the landlord feels they have good enough reasons to want to serve a section 8 notice.  The main issue with the process is that if tenants seek legal advice and they then put up a good enough defence, they can challenge the possession claim and remain in the property. Once you begin the process landlords must see the case through to the conclusion – or pay the other side’s legal fees if they want to stop the process and this can be costly. Another risk is also down to the tenant’s defence. If your tenant decides to defend their case or bring a counter claim against you, losing the case could cause you to face some very high fees, especially if your tenant has invested in legal aide and legal assistance. Losing the case could mean that all of these costs will fall on you, and paying the fees themselves can take up to a year. For successful possession claims, it takes an average period of 18 weeks between claims and repossessions – and claims can cost up to £355 each just in court fees.

 

What do landlords think?

The many risks involved with seeking a section 8 notice can sometimes prove too much for landlords who are facing problems with their tenants, so alternative routes are taken to solve the problems. However, if section 8 is something that is there for landlords to use, arguably it should be a process that is simple and virtually risk-free to those using it. Richard Lambert from the CEO of the National Landlords Association feels that the process is in need of an urgent reform. “Landlords are forced to reply on section 21 ‘no fault’ notices, even when there is a breach in tenancy. This is essentially a sticking plaster covering the fundamental issue – that the section 8 process is no longer fit for purpose.” The association is calling for the government to review the possession process so that landlords can be confident that they can regain possession of their properties in the event of tenancy breaches.

 

If you would like to find out more information on this or any other landlord and tenant issue please contact Richard Banks on 01299 896 968, or email rb@gherbertbanks.co.uk.

If you have found this blog helpful, you may wish to read our previous blog on Rental Tax Changes.