It has come to our attention that some companies claiming to be experts in the field of Landlord and Tenant law are advising agents not to serve section 8 notices until tenants are into their third month of arrears because some judges insist that to serve a notice during the second month is “no longer acceptable”. The companies go on to suggest that certain firms deliberately issue notices prematurely in order to ensure adjournments and thus increase their own fees.
Leaving aside the accuracy of the statements and without joining in any mudslinging, Painsmith comments as follows:
1. Under ground 8 of schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, if rent is payable monthly and at least two months’ rent is unpaid the grounds for possession are made out. Rent means rent lawfully due from the tenant. This is spelled out in the Housing Act. Where rent is payable in advance but the tenant does not pay the rent on the payment date, then from the day after the rent payment date that months’ rent is lawfully due but unpaid, and ground 8 is made out.
2. Painsmith deals with hundreds of section 8 notices a certain number of which lead to possession proceedings for rent arrears. Painsmith has never experienced a judge adjourning a hearing on the basis that the section 8 notice should have been served in the third month.
3. Where the tenants pay quarterly then ground 8 is made out if “at least one quarters’ rent is more than three months in arrears”. In this case then you would need to wait until the tenant was three clear months in arrears.
Of course there is no compulsion to serve a section 8 notice on ground 8 immediately that the ground is made out. However the law is clear: where a tenant pays monthly in advance ground 8 is made out the day after the second unpaid rental due date has passed. As the leading landlord and tenant legal practitioners in this field Painsmith has a duty to set the record straight.