It is difficult for landlords to believe that there is not a positive intention to ‘wrong foot’ them when they need to evict a tenant for a transgression. If this was not the case, why is there so little publicity when a major change is made that affects the eviction process?
With very little notice, the Government announced on 30th November that they have changed the section 8 notice and that from 1st December, anyone wishing to evict using a section 8 must use a form 3 ‘Notice seeking possession of a property let on an Assured Tenancy or an Assured Agricultural Occupancy’. As the last change was to incorporate section 97 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, so the new version includes section 41 of the Immigration Act 2016.
The Act specifies that Landlords may only give a tenancy to someone with the Right to Rent or risk very serious penalties. To qualify for the Right to Rent, a prospective tenant must be either:
- A British Citizen
- A citizen of a country in the European Community or the European Economic Area
- A citizen of another country with no time limits on the permission given to live in the UK (which would apply to an asylum seeker, given indefinite leave to remain).
There is very little difference in the notice, save for a reference to the 2016 Act in the heading of the form, but this version must be used, if the possession claim is not to be thrown out of Court. It seems particularly pointless as someone without the right to rent cannot legally take a valid tenancy, so would not need to be evicted by the standard legal process as laid down in a section 8.
It is the compulsion which offends. It ‘Must’ be used. Whilst landlords who are members of landlord associations, or are part of accreditation schemes, will hear of this change quickly, what of the 90% of landlords who do not belong to associations? When will they hear of the change?
Whilst issuing the incorrect notice will have no implications if the tenant decides to go during the course of the notice, or can be persuaded (without pressure) that leaving without a Court hearing will be beneficial to them, if they believe they should be given a social housing property, that is not an option. Almost certainly, it will be after they have served the incorrect notice, waited for the notice period to expire and then proceeded to Court. Only when it gets in front of a Judge will they be advised that this was an invalid notice. Eviction will have been delayed by at least 5 or 6 weeks whilst the process starts again.
Sometimes, these pronouncements from on high take some time to filter down to local Courts. It is possible that some notices issued on the incorrect form will slip through. Unfortunately, this cannot be relied upon. Take steps to obtain the correct notice and dispose of any copies of the old notice which you were retaining for the ‘next time’.
It seems obvious that despite the job the private sector does in helping to house the homeless, the Government have no intention of making eviction any easier for landlords, in fact, seem to bowl a ‘googly’ whenever they can.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon