Agents are being warned to ensure they serve eviction notices correctly as the ‘peak eviction’ summer period arrives.
Specialist tenant referencing service Rent4sure says particular attention should be paid to Section 8 and Section 21 notices, which are two of the most frequent and complicated.
A Section 8 notice can be served for a breach of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement and is most commonly used to tackle rent arrears.
“A landlord or their agent should serve a Section 8 notice under grounds 8, 10 and 11 as soon as the tenant defaults on two months of rent arrears,” explains Luke Burton, Rent4sure’s sales and marketing director.
“This differs slightly when the rent is paid weekly, or quarterly and in some instances, you may have to wait for a further period before serving a Section 8 notice under the mandatory ground 8.”
He says that if rent is paid weekly or fortnightly, eight weeks’ rent must be due before a Section 8 notice can be served.
For quarterly rent payments, at least one quarter’s worth of rent must be at least three months in arrears.
“If the rent is paid yearly, at least three months’ rent must be three months in arrears” adds Burton.
A Section 21 notice, meanwhile, should only be served at the end of a fixed term or in line with an agreed break clause within the tenancy agreement. A Section 21 should be served giving the tenant two months’ notice.
“However, if the tenancy commenced prior to October 1 2015 and no new term has been entered into post that date, notice can be served at any time,” says Burton.
He explains that if the tenancy commenced after October 1 2015, agents are not permitted to serve a Section 21 notice until after the first four months of the tenancy have lapsed.
A new government Form 6A – which is only valid for six months from the date of issue - must be used for all tenancies commencing after this date including any renewals.
Rent4sure says it is good practice to serve these notices towards the end of the term to ensure that if possession proceedings become necessary, the notice is still valid.
In the instance that a tenancy began before October 2015 but a renewal has been granted since that date, the Form 6A must still be used.
The rule which states Section 21 notices cannot be served for the first four months of the tenancy only applies from the date of the first agreement.
“However, these will also only be valid for a period of six months from the date they are issued on the tenant,” explains Burton.
“Therefore, it would be good practice to diarise to serve these a few months before the end of the term to ensure the notice remains valid if the tenant fails to vacate and proceedings do become necessary.”