Renting in England: "Section 8 eviction process"

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What is the "Section 8 eviction process"?

This answer concerns only Assured Shorthold Tenancy rentals (the most common in England).

The Section 8 eviction process is one of 2 legal procedures that can be used by an owner to terminate a rental agreement.

This eviction procedure can be used by landlords when the tenant:

  • has rent arrears

The eviction procedure can be triggered if the tenant has a rent arrears of at least 2 months (or 8 weeks).

For the procedure to be valid, the tenant must always be in arrears of rent:

  • on the date the owner gives the eviction notice
  • on the date of the court hearing
  • presents a recurring delay in the payment of its rent
  • does not respect one or more clauses of its rental contract
  • damages the housing
  • has antisocial or criminal behavior

An owner can also use the Section 21 eviction process procedure. These 2 procedures involve recourse to a court - only the court can legally evict a tenant from his accommodation.

A Landlords cannot in any case evict a tenant by force. They must take legal action in order to legally evict him. Otherwise, he would be guilty of illegal eviction, recognised as an offense in England (criminal offense).

The tenant and the owner keep the same rights and obligations during this eviction procedure.

1. Delivery of the eviction notice

The owner must send an eviction notice using the form 3 or by writing a letter with the same information - including the reasons for the eviction.

Depending on the reason why the landlord wants to evict their tenant, the notice can be 14 days, 4 weeks or 2 months.

Agreement

If the tenant agrees with the eviction notice:

  • No legal action is necessary
  • The tenant will vacate the accommodation on the date mentioned in the eviction notice - or another date negotiated with their landlord

Disagree

If the tenant disagrees with the eviction notice, the landlord can take legal action to initiate an action against him.

2. Legal action

If the tenant decides to stay in the accommodation, the landlord can take legal action to request an eviction order against him. He must do so within 12 months of the delivery of the eviction notice.

If the tenant wins the lawsuit, the legal costs will be paid in full by the landlord. If he loses the case, he will - in most cases - have to pay his legal costs as well as those of his owner.

It is completely legal for the tenant to stay in the unit after the end of the notice period mentioned in the eviction notice.

Preparation for the hearing

Once justice is seized, the court sends the tenant:

  • A defense form
  • The date of the hearing
  • The evidence that the owner has submitted to justice

The tenant must complete and return his defense form within 14 days.

Audience

A judge studies the case during the hearing, taking into account the explanations and evidence provided by both parties.

Even if they have not returned the defense form, the tenant can attend the hearing. It is nevertheless advisable to explain the situation and provide proof - using this form - before the hearing.

Court decision

The court may decide to:

  • Close the case - if the eviction notice is found invalid:
    • The tenant stays in the accommodation

If the case is closed, the owner can choose to initiate a new eviction procedure.

  • Order the tenant to leave (usually within 14 days):
    • If the tenant has not left the accommodation by the date indicated on the eviction order, the owner can then request an eviction by a bailiff (form N54)

Reminder: landlords cannot under any circumstances evict a tenant by force. They must take legal action in order to legally evict him. Otherwise, he would be guilty of illegal eviction, recognised as an offense in England (criminal offense).

  • Deferring the eviction order:
    • The tenant can stay in the accommodation under certain conditions (repayment plan for the arrears of rent, etc.)

If the terms of the agreement are not respected, the owner can again appeal to justice.

The court's decision is known on the day of the hearing - if the tenant does not attend the hearing, they are notified by post.