At Ocasa we believe in a fair and transparent treatment of residents and we aim to operate in this way. To do so we apply standard policies and procedures underpinned by this belief.
Ocasa considers that legal action should always be the last resort, when all attempts to work with a resident or find another solution has failed. All action will be with provision of clear reasoning and proportionate to that issue which is trying to be resolved.
Section 21 Notice
A section 21 notice is notification of the starts of the process to end an assured shorthold tenancy. The notice states a date for the end of the tenancy. No section 21 notice will be served without the resident being informed as to why; in writing, in advance.
This could be for one of the following reasons.
- Substantial Rent Arrears.
- Suspected Abandonment of the property
- Completion of Major works which can only be completed on a vacant property.
- Redevelopment / refurbishment of a building.
- Anti-social behaviour.
- Death of a tenant.
Retaliatory or revenge evictions
The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced new rules for assured shorthold tenancies where a tenant has complained about the repair of their tenanted property and the rights and procedure for a landlord obtaining possession through the use of a Section 21 Notice.
Courts can now refuse to grant a possession order following the issuing of a Section 21 Notice if any of the following apply:
- the tenant complained to the landlord or letting agent in writing (by letter or email).
- the landlord issued a section 21 notice after the tenant complained about the condition of the rental property.
- the tenant complained to the Council because the landlord didn’t take steps to fix the property so the Council sent the landlord an Improvement Notice.
For any resident wishing to complain about their property, the formal complaints procedure should be followed, and no Section 21 notice served in any such case.
Section 8 Notice
There are range of reasons for which a Section 8 Notice can be served:
- The tenant is in rent arrears, with more than 3 months of rent due.
- The terms of the tenancy agreement have been breached by the tenant.
- The tenant has caused damage to the property through their own neglect, or through the actions of someone living with them.
- The tenant is causing a nuisance to neighbours.
The ground(s) to be relied on to claim possession, must be clear and the notice must also give precise details of the breach as set out in one or more of the Grounds for Possession (Housing Acts 1988 & 1996).
The following will have taken place prior to the serving of a section 8 notice:
- For rent arrears, we will have made reasonable attempts to assist with the matter. If the resident is experiencing financial difficulty, we would attempt to conduct a rent relief assessment and create a payment plan with the resident to help them through the period. If a payment plan was not suitable for the resident, we would signpost them to relevant independent services that can help. A section 8 notice would only be served as a last resort if both the resident and Ocasa are unable to resolve the matter without proceedings.
- For breaches of conditions within the tenancy agreement, we would also inform the resident that their actions have breached the terms of the agreement, we would warn them that if the behaviour continued, we would be forced to serve a section 8 notice. We would issue 3 warnings before doing so.
- Where a tenant has caused damage to the property through neglect or by someone leaving with them, we would attempt to resolve the issue by informing the resident of the issues and giving them the option to rectify the damage. If this did not happen we would be forced to serve the section 8 notice.
- If a tenant is causing a nuisance to a neighbour, we would also inform the resident that their actions are causing a nuisance to a neighbour, we would warn them that if the behaviour continued, we would be forced to serve a section 8 notice. We would issue 3 warnings before doing so.
Expiry of Section 21 Notice / Section 8 Notice
On expiry of any notices served, and prior to any County Court application to seek possession of a property, the Ocasa team will ensure that the correct processes have been followed to ensure the proposed action is proportionate.
The following should have taken place prior to the application to seek possession:
- Cross checking that there was dual service of Section 21 and Section 8 Notices.
- That the Section 8 and Section 21 Notices clearly outlines valid reasons in which the resident is being considered for eviction.
- The resident has been given the chance to remedy any faults within their control
- Ocasa have requested the resident make contact if they believe they are at risk of homelessness so that referrals to external support agencies can be made where appropriate and possible.
- That the resident has been informed in writing with the reason for seeking to evict them – prior to the court application being made and advised to seek independent legal advice.
The Pre-Action Protocol Checklist should also be completed as part of this case review. Pre action protocols are in place to:
- encourage more pre-action contact and exchange of information between landlords and tenants.
- enable the parties to avoid litigation by settling the matter, if possible.
- to enable court time to be used more effectively if proceedings are necessary.
The Head of Operations will review the case in detail prior to passing the case to Solicitors who will make the court application if approved.