After the nil notice given for the increase in the charges to take Court proceedings for possession, it is not surprising that changes to the section 8 notice should be implemented with no warning whatsoever. Notification was received on 6th April 2016 to guess what – change from 6th April.
What was clear from the notification was that the new version MUST be used from then on. Was this another ploy to fox landlords, to have them go to Court with an invalid notice which would then be thrown out? Tenant delighted – another 3 or 4 months in the property, with local authorities advising them to stay where they are until the Court orders possession. Landlord – mortified, frustrated, increasing debt because, of course, who would expect the tenant to start re-paying his rent whilst the possession proceedings are under way?
Having provided training for landlords just the week before on the subject of eviction and given copies of the section 8 notice, this was particularly frustrating. So I turned to the notice. I knew there had been changes, but had to read the notice through twice to even see what they are. Were they significant changes that could clarify the situation for the tenant? The answer is: Hardly.
There are 2 changes on page 1.
In the previous section 8, (which was amended in April 2015) in making reference to the section 21 (so hardly a relevant change), the section just before the questions are asked, says ‘There is no prescribed form for these cases, but you must give notice in writing’.
The new form states ‘Form 6A ‘Notice seeking possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy’ is prescribed for these cases.
So a vital change, the new form must be used, though in this case, the change was about something that did not apply anyway, as a section 8 notice was being used!
The second change is in the Notes on the grounds for possession, third paragraph.
The old form states ‘The court will not make an order under grounds 1, 3 to 7, 9 or 16, to take effect during the fixed term of the tenancy (if there is one) and it will only make an order in the fixed term on grounds 2, 8, 10 to 15 or 17 if the terms of the tenancy make provision for it to be brought to an end on any of these grounds.’
The new form states: ‘The court will not make an order under grounds 1, 3 to 6, 9 or 16, to take effect during the fixed term of the tenancy (if there is one) and it will only make an order in the fixed term on grounds 2, 7, 7A , 8, 10 to 15 or 17 if the terms of the tenancy make provision for it to be brought to an end on any of these grounds.”
This does make allowances for the addition of ground 7A, so perhaps more necessary than the first seems!
The final change is on the second page. Question 6 asks for the name and address of the landlord. The change there is that it should now read ‘Name and address of landlord/licensor*’.
However you feel about the new form, it is now the form to use. If you hold spare section 8’s, dispose of them. I find it hard to believe that such trivial changes could result in claims being thrown out, but don’t risk it. Get the new forms.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon