Validity of Section 8 Notices

22 May 2014

The Court of Appeal has recently considered a landlord’s failure to include statutory wording in a Section 8 Notice served on a tenant under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

In the case of Masih, R (on the application of) v Yousaf the landlord had served a two week Section 8 Notice under the Housing Act 1988.  As many landlords will be aware, this is the usual notice served on tenants who have fallen behind with their rent and one of the grounds normally relied on is ground 8.  Ground 8 is cited where there are at least two months rent arrears.

In the above case, the Landlord relied on a ground 8 but did not replicate the wording from the Housing Act 1988.

The County Court originally granted the possession order and dismissed the tenant’s application to set aside that order.  The tenant appealed to the Court of Appeal and asserted that the notice was defective because it did not adopt the statutory wording.

The Court of Appeal found in favour of the landlord and dismissed the tenant’s appeal.

The Court concluded that the words used in the notice must be adequate to achieve the purpose set out by the legislation - giving the tenant the information which it should be given within the notice.  The tenant must be given enough information to understand what it must do to put things right and prevent the loss of the property. 

In this particular case, the Court held that the wording was sufficiently clear to enable the tenant to understand what it needed to do to put right the problem.  Accordingly, the notice was valid.

The Court of Appeal concluded by saying that it could not think of a good reason not to adopt the statutory wording. This wording should be used in s8 notices to prevent disputes such as this arising in the future.

The case underlines the importance of serving Notices in the correct manner. Should landlords or managing agents need any assistance with preparation of such notices, please contact Ellisons Property Litigation Department for further assistance.

Joseph Brightman, Ellisons,
Headgate Court, Head Street,
Colchester,  Essex CO1 1NP

May 2014