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Which Grounds for possession should I use?


The Housing Act 1988 as amended by the Housing Act 1996 lays down certain circumstances (grounds) under which a landlord may successfully apply to court for possession using a section 8 notice.

These grounds for possession apply to tenancies entered into after 15 January 1989. The terms of your tenancy agreement must make provision for termination on these grounds and the ground needs to be written in full on the Section 8 Notice.

This document is designed to provide a summary of each ground, explaining when they should be used and what each ground means. These summaries are not to be inserted into the Section 8 Notice itself. The full text of the grounds for use with the Section 8 Notice is available in a separate document.

Will I always get possession if I can prove a ground?

It depends on which ground is being relied upon.

The grounds for possession are split into mandatory or discretionary grounds. For mandatory grounds (1-8), a judge must order possession if the landlord can prove the existence of the ground. For discretionary grounds (9-17), the judge will decide whether or not the circumstances justify a possession order.

Is there a limit on how many grounds I can use?

No, as long as you have evidence of the ground then you should insert it on the Section 8 notice (unless it will increase your notice length). If you need to use more grounds than will fit on the RLA section 8 form then you should use a continuation sheet.

Mandatory grounds for possession

Grounds 1-5 of the Housing Act 1988 require the landlord to serve notice prior to the commencement of the tenancy. This notice must warn the tenant that possession might be sought for the reason stated in that ground. Normally this warning is part of a written tenancy agreement. In some circumstances the court may decide to waive the requirement of notice if it is just and equitable to do so but it is unlikely to succeed without this.

Ground 1 allows the landlord to repossess the property if -

  1. the landlord has lived in the property previously. This does not require the landlord to want to move back into the property, or
  2. the landlord wishes to move into the property to use it as their main home and they were the owner of the property prior to the tenant moving in. This does not require the landlord to have lived in the property beforehand.

For this ground to be successful the landlord must have notified the tenant, in writing before the tenancy started, that he intended one day to ask for the property back on this ground.

Ground 2 relates to a lender's right to possession. If the property is subject to a mortgage the landlord will often be required to serve this notice on the tenants.

Ground 3 requires that the fixed term is less than eight months and the property has been let as a holiday home within the preceding 12 months.

Ground 4 is only for further and higher education providers.

Ground 5 is where the dwelling is owned for the purposes of a minister of religion to better carry out their duties and the residence is needed for such a purpose.

Ground 6 relates to recovery of possession when the landlord needs to carry out substantial building works. It cannot be used by a landlord against a tenant who was already in the property when the landlord bought it. This is particularly important as a tenant may in fact be a regulated tenant and be protected by the provisions of the Rent Act 1977 rather than the Housing Act 1988. A landlord who purchases a property should check the date that the person moved into the property and not just accept that a shorthold contract supplied by the seller is in fact a shorthold.

Ground 7 can be used to recover possession after the death of the tenant where the tenancy has devolved under their will or intestacy and the tenancy was periodic.

Ground 7A relates to anti-social behaviour committed by the tenant or any other person

living with the tenant or visiting the property. The landlord may seek possession if, after

October 20th 2014, that person has -

  1. committed and been convicted of a serious crime
  2. breached an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction obtained under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014
  3. breached a Criminal Behaviour Order obtained under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014
  4. Convicted of a breach of a notice or order to reduce their noise in relation to the tenant's property under the Environmental Protection Act 1990
  5. The tenant's property has been closed under a closure order obtained under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 and closure is continuous for at least 48 hours.

Ground 7B relates to the tenant's right to rent status in the UK and is only available in England.

A landlord may receive a notice from the Home Secretary. This notice should inform them that there are one or more occupiers, aged 18 or over, in the property with no right to rent in the UK at this time.

Ground 8 relates to serious rent arrears and is the main ground used by landlords of Housing Act 1988 tenancies seeking possession for rent arrears. The amount of arrears should be at both the date of the service of the notice and at the date of the hearing:

Note that there is nothing written about 4 weekly or 6 monthly rent periods so a judge may not consider ground 8 usable for tenancies where rent is paid in that fashion.

If a tenant is able to reduce the rent arrears to below the relevant figure by the date of the hearing the application will be dismissed. Similarly, if the tenant can show that the landlord owes the tenant money (via repairs, unprotected deposits, etc) this may reduce the arrears below two months.

As a result, landlords should always consider using Ground 10 and 11 as well for rent arrears so that if an application on Ground 8 fails it will still be possible to seek the order on the other discretionary grounds.

Discretionary grounds

Ground 9 can be used where suitable alternative accommodation is available for the tenant or will be available for him when the order for possession takes effect.

Ground 10 can be used where some rent that is lawfully due from the tenant: -

Ground 11 can be used in cases where the tenant has persistently delayed paying rent which has become lawfully due. This applies whether or not any rent is in arrears on the date on which proceedings for possession are begun.

Ground 12 can be used where any obligation of the tenancy (other than one related to the payment of rent) has been broken or not performed.

Ground 13 is for use where the condition of the dwelling-house (or any of the common parts if the dwelling is part of a larger building) has deteriorated owing to acts of waste by, or the neglect or default of, the tenant or any other person residing in the dwelling-house. In the case of an act of waste by, or the neglect or default of, a person lodging with the tenant or a sub-tenant of his, the ground can also be used if the tenant has not taken such steps as he ought reasonably to have taken for the removal of the lodger or sub-tenant.

Ground 14 can be used in cases of anti-social behaviour committed by the tenant or any other person living with the tenant or visiting the property if that person:

Ground 14A relates to domestic violence and is only available to registered social landlords or charitable housing trusts.

Ground 14ZA is for use where the tenant or an adult residing in the property has been convicted of an indictable offence at the scene of a riot.

Ground 15 can be used where the condition of any furniture provided for use under the tenancy has, in the opinion of the court, deteriorated owing to ill-treatment by the tenant or any other person residing in the dwellinghouse.

In the case of ill-treatment by a person lodging with the tenant or by the tenant's sub-tenant, the tenant has not taken reasonable steps for the removal of the lodger or sub-tenant.

Ground 16 relates to where the dwelling-house was let to the tenant in consequence of his employment by the landlord seeking possession or a previous landlord under the tenancy and the tenant has ceased to be in that employment.

Ground 17 can be used where the tenant is the person, or one of the persons, to whom the tenancy was granted and the landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by either the tenant or a person acting on the tenant's instigation.

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