Eviction after a section 8 notice

This page is for private renters. 

We have different advice for council and housing association tenants facing eviction.

What is a section 8 notice?

Your landlord can give you a section 8 notice as a first step towards ending either an:

When the notice period ends they can apply to court for a possession order.

The process takes time and sometimes the court can stop an eviction. Get legal advice.  

Most private renters have assured shorthold tenancies. Your landlord may be able to use the section 21 eviction process instead or as well if you have this tenancy type.

Your landlord needs a reason to evict you

To use the section 8 eviction process, your landlord must have a legal reason.

Rent arrears is the most common reason for a section 8 notice but there are other reasons, such as antisocial behaviour.

Legal reasons for eviction are called 'grounds for possession' on the notice.

Your landlord must prove the grounds for possession in court.

Keep talking to your landlord. They may delay court action if you can get your rent back on track and pay off any arrears.

How to check your notice is valid

To be valid, a section 8 must give:

  • the right amount of notice

  • a date after which court action can start

  • the grounds for possession, and explain why they are being used

Check what a section 8 notice looks like on GOV.UK

The court won't order eviction if your section 8 notice is not valid or your landlord does not apply to court in time.

Your notice is valid for a year

If your landlord gives you a valid notice they have 1 year to start court action. After this the notice will lapse and can no longer be used.

If you have rent arrears

Rent arrears is the most common reason for a section 8 notice.

Your notice will mention grounds 8, 10 or 11 if you're facing eviction for rent arrears.

The length of notice depends on:

  • the level of rent arrears

  • when you were given the notice

Notice periods have changed several times because of coronavirus.

When you were given noticeMinimum notice period
On or after 1 October 20212 months
Between 1 August and 30 September 20212 months if rent arrears below 4 months
4 weeks if rent arrears of 4 months or more
Between 1 June and 31 July 20214 months if rent arrears below 4 months
4 weeks if rent arrears of 4 months or more
Between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 20216 months if rent arrears below 6 months
4 weeks if rent arrears of 6 months or more
Between 26 March and 28 August 20203 months
Before 26 March 20202 weeks

If your landlord uses ground 8

Your landlord can use ground 8 if you have at least 2 months' arrears.

Try to reduce your rent arrears below this level by the time of the hearing.

The court must make a possession order if your landlord can prove at least 2 months' arrears both when you were given notice and on the date of the hearing.

The court can't order eviction on ground 8 if you owe less than 2 months' rent. They might still order eviction on another ground.

Breathing Space is a scheme that can help tenants with rent arrears. It pauses the eviction process for up to 60 days while you get debt advice.

Find out if you qualify for breathing space

If your landlord uses other possession grounds

Check your notice to see if any other grounds are listed.

Between 26 March and 28 August 2020, all section 8 notices had to be at least 3 months.

Use this table to check the minimum notice periods if you were given notice between 29 August 2020 and 30 September 2021.

The table does not list every possible ground as some are not used often by private landlords.

GroundBetween 29 August 2020 and 31 May 2021Between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021
7 - original tenant has died3 months2 months
7B - no right to rent3 months2 weeks
12 - breach of tenancy agreement6 months4 months
13 - damage to property6 months4 months
14 - antisocial behaviourNo minimum notice periodNo minimum notice period
15 - damage to furniture6 months4 months
16 - former employee6 months4 months

If your landlord starts court action

Your landlord can apply for a possession order once the notice period has ended.

You will get several letters and forms from the court. Keep them together in a file.

This table shows the main documents you should get before a court hearing.

Letters receivedWhat this means
Claim and defence formsYour landlord has applied for a possession order.
Notice of review The court has scheduled a review date for your case.
Notice of possession hearingThe court has arranged a hearing for you to attend.

Claim and defence forms

The court will send you a:

  • N5 claim form

  • N11R defence form

Read the claim form carefully. Look for any mistakes or anything you disagree with.

The defence form lets you tell the court why you shouldn’t be evicted. For example, if:

  • what the landlord says isn’t true

  • you can make an offer to repay rent arrears

  • you have a claim for compensation that will reduce any arrears

Get legal help to complete the defence form. You have 2 weeks to return it to the court.

If you can't get help and don't know what to write, court guidance says you could send a short statement to the court instead.

You should explain your situation and why a possession order should not be made.

Notice of review

A notice of review tells you the date your case will be reviewed by a judge.

The review date is not a possession hearing and you don't need to attend in person.

It is a chance to get free legal advice from a court duty adviser if you've not managed to get legal advice before this.

Check the notice of review carefully for details of how to contact the court duty scheme.

The court hearing

A hearing will usually be at your local county court 4 weeks after the review date.

You will get a 'notice of possession hearing' from the court which tells you:

  • the time and date

  • how to get free legal help on the day from a duty adviser

Get legal advice before the hearing if you can.

You should always attend or let the court know if there's a very good reason why you can't. For example, sudden and serious ill health.

The hearing should only take about 15 minutes.

Follow any guidance from the court on arrival times, social distancing and face coverings.

When the judge could dismiss your case

The judge could dismiss the case if your landlord can't prove a ground for possession. For example, if you've paid off all your rent arrears.

They could also dismiss the case if your section 8 notice is not valid.

When the judge must order eviction

The judge must make an outright possession order if your landlord has used ground 8 and can prove that you had at least 2 months' rent arrears both when you were given notice and at the hearing.

They must also make an outright order if your landlord can prove any of the grounds 1 to 8.

An outright possession order sets a date for you to leave your home.

When the judge could let you stay if you keep to conditions

With grounds 9 to 17, the judge can consider if it's reasonable to evict you.

For example, if you have some rent arrears but your landlord has not used ground 8 or you've reduced your arrears to below 2 months by the time of the hearing the judge could make a suspended possession order.

A suspended order lets you stay in your home if you keep to conditions such as paying off arrears in set instalments.

The judge may still decide to make an outright order.

If the judge makes an order, you usually have to pay the court fees and some or all of your landlord’s legal costs. There are limits on how much you can be ordered to pay.

Eviction by bailiffs

Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home.

Your landlord can apply for bailiffs if you:

  • stay past the date on an outright order

  • break the conditions in a suspended order

They can use county court bailiffs or high court enforcement officers (HCEOs).

The bailiffs give you at least 2 weeks' notice of the eviction date.

You can only ask the court to stop the eviction at this stage if the eviction order was made on grounds 9 to17.

You can't ask the court to stop the eviction at this stage if your landlord got an outright order on ground 8, even if you clear the arrears.

Find out what happens if the eviction goes ahead.

Last updated: 30 July 2021

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