Section 8 Vs Section 21

This is a common question asked by many landlords, who aren’t sure which type of notice they need to serve to their tenants to get them to leave. There’s a wide range of situations in which you would want your tenant to vacate the property. Sometimes you simply want the property back – to sell, to move into yourself or to perhaps rent to a family member instead. Sometimes you get a nightmare tenant and just want them out, as quickly and smoothly as possible! So you can go back in search for that perfect tenant who pays their full rent on time and looks after the property. Though they’re both quite similar in outcome (hopefully you end up with an empty property!), it is important for landlords to know the difference so that they can avoid any unnecessary expenses or delays that may be caused by the serving the incorrect one.

The main difference between a Section 8 and a Section 21 notice is why you want your tenants to vacate. Both the Section 21 and Section 8 are notices of seeking possession, in which you give your tenants a minimum of 2 months to leave your property (although a Section 8 may give between 2 weeks’ and 2 months’ notice depending on what terms of the tenancy agreement have been broken).

When To Use A Section 8 Notice

  • Your tenant is in breach of their tenancy agreement, and you have legitimate grounds for possession as per the agreed contract. Most commonly, the Section 8 notice is given to tenants who are in arrears with their rent.
  • This can be served at any point during the tenancy.
  • There is outstanding debt owed by your tenant that you want to recover.
  • You can still serve a Section 8 if the tenant’s deposit is not protected in a scheme.

When To Use A Section 21 Notice

  • Your tenant has a written assured shorthold tenancy or statutory periodic tenancy agreement.
  • Your tenant’s deposit (if the tenancy started after April 2007) is in a deposit protection scheme.
  • You want to regain possession of the property for your own reasons, not necessarily because the tenant has done anything wrong.
  • This can be served immediately after the fixed term of the tenancy or during the periodic tenancy after the fixed term.

Sounds simple, right? If the tenant is in breach of their tenancy agreement, serve them a Section 8. If you just want them to vacate the property and reclaim ownership, serve them a Section 21. However, sometimes it’s better to serve your tenant a Section 21. Even if they have been in breach of their contract. For example, if your tenant has rolled into a periodic tenancy or is close to the end of their fixed term. This will eliminate any of the legal headaches that a Section 8 can sometimes cause, such as costly tenant disputes in court, which may result in the tenant being allowed to remain in the property while the dispute is ongoing. You will also need to provide evidence of the tenant having broken the terms of your agreement. A Section 21, however, can make the whole process much smoother as there is less of a risk of long eviction processes.

If in doubt, you should always seek legal advice. But it is also possible to serve both and the notices will not conflict, as they both serve different purposes and separate from each other. But, should you cancel the Section 8, you may still be asked to pay the legal costs incurred.

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