Deciding between a section 8 vs section 21 notice is an important choice for residential landlords. You can use these two notices to force your tenant to leave your property, if you have an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.
But what are the differences between the two options? And when it comes to “section 8 vs section 21”, which should you choose? In this post, we’ll explore the differences between the two notices – and explain how a landlord solicitor can help you decide which is the best option for you.
What is a section 8 notice?
Section 8 notices can be served if the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement. That could be through accruing rent arrears or by causing damage to the property. This is the standard notice used to evict problematic tenants.
What is a section 21 notice?
Section 21 notices are also known as “no fault” possession notices. You don’t have to provide any reason for taking the property back with this notice, so it can be served to tenants who have done nothing wrong.
Section 8 vs section 21 – what’s the difference?
There are several key differences between section 8 and section 21 notices…
Providing a reason for possession
With a section 21 notice, landlords don’t need to provide a specific reason for seeking possession. This notice can be used when the landlord simply wishes to have their property back, whether that’s to put it on the market or live in it themselves.
Meanwhile, a section 8 notice requires landlords to provide a reason for possession. There are 17 grounds you can choose from. These are split into two types – mandatory and discretionary. Mandatory grounds are clear-cut and, if proven, the court must grant you possession of the property.
Discretionary grounds are more subjective. Once these grounds are proven, the court will then have to consider whether the eviction is “reasonable”. If the landlord’s grounds are determined to be fair, then the possession can go ahead. However, in some cases, the court may rule in favour of the tenant, allowing the tenancy to continue.
Challenging the notice
Tenants have limited grounds to challenge a section 21 notice, as it does not require the landlord to state a specific reason for eviction. In contrast, a section 8 notice requires the landlord to cite specific grounds for eviction. If these grounds are disputed by the tenant, the matter may proceed to court, potentially resulting in additional costs and a lengthier process.
Timing the notice
There are some rules for when a section 21 notice can be served. It can’t be served within the first four months of the tenancy, nor should it expire before the end of a fixed term tenancy. Section 8 notices can be served at any point during the tenancy.
Notice period for tenants
Section 21 notices require a notice period of two months. The required notice period for a section 8 notice can vary. It all depends on the grounds the landlord uses to request possession of the property. Most grounds require between two weeks to two months’ notice. However, with ground 14 (which covers different forms of anti-social behaviour), no notice is required.
Section 8 vs section 21 – which is right for me?
There are pros and cons with both section 8 and section 21 notices, so you’ll need to weigh up which is the right option for you. Although section 8 notices have a much shorter notice period, the process is often more complex and time-consuming for landlords. Tenants can challenge the grounds for possession, which means the process can drag on through court proceedings.
Section 21 notices are often much simpler for landlords, as there’s no need to provide a reason. There’s also no need to go to court. However, you’ll need to give your tenants at least two months’ notice to leave your property – and potentially longer if they have a periodic tenancy.
As both notices are separate, there’s also the option to serve them both at the same time. In this scenario, the section 21 notice serves as a back-up should the section 8 notice fall through.
Deciding on the right option for your circumstances can be challenging. We recommend arranging a consultation with our highly experienced landlord solicitors before making a decision.
Serve section 8 and 21 notices with experienced solicitors
At Osbourne Pinner Solicitors, our landlord solicitors have vast expertise with landlord and tenant disputes. If you’re considering serving your tenant with a section 8 or 21 notice, then it helps to have the experts on hand.
From serving notices to court representation, our friendly and experienced team can provide advice and support at every step. We can also support you with landlord and tenant mediation, if you’d like to resolve any issues outside of the court process.