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Does a missing landlord address invalidate a Section 8 notice?

contract signing

This was a question answered during an appeal case covered here by Tom Entwistle

SUMMARY: In the case of Prempeh v Lakhany in the Court of Appeal has confirmed that a Section 8 notice seeking possession for rent arrears is not invalid if it is signed by the landlord’s agent and does not include the landlord’s own name and address. This judgment applies to Section 8 notices, but the ruling could also apply to Section 21 notices. However, landlords who serve notices through agents are advised to include the landlord’s details on the notice and perhaps a covering letter to avoid any potential disputes. The recent release of details of The Renters (Reform) bill also revealed the government’s plans to make it easier for landlords and lettings agents to regain possession of their properties by amending Section 8 when Section 21 is abolished - see below.

In the Prempeh v Lakhany (Oct 2020) appeal the tenant claimed that a Section 8 notice was invalid because it did not contain the landlord's address and signature.

This question was considered by the Court of Appeal in the Prempeh v Lakhany case when a landlord's agent had served a Section 8 notice in respect of rent arrears.

A Section 8 notice to quit, or perhaps more correctly a section 8 notice seeking possession, is so called because it operates under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, as amended.

The Section 8 notice is a breach of contract notice which, unlike a Section 21 notice, can be served during the fixed term of a residential tenancy in England. It also has the advantage that a money claim can be included. It is served on a tenant by a landlord wishing to regain possession of a property during an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).

Interestingly, when the Section 21 so called "no fault" or perhaps more correctly, "no reason" paper based accelerated possession process is abolished, then Section 8, albeit with extended grounds, will be the only route available to landlords.

This article applies primarily to England and is not a full interpretation of the law, only the courts can decide. Although tenancy laws are similar in other jurisdictions, there may be significant differences. Always seek professional advice before making or not making important decisions.

The Section 8 notice

Once the Section 8 notice has been served and the notice period has expired, the landlord can apply to the court for a hearing (usually after 14 days). The aim being to get a possession order by using the relevant form (the court application form) and by paying the court fees.

The landlord is then given a date to attend court - the first hearing - and should attend on this date. If the tenant has not filed a defence or does not attend court to challenge the claim, the court may make a possession order at the first hearing.

However, if the tenant defends the claim, the court will issue directions at this hearing, which usually takes around 10 minutes, and will then adjourn the claim until a further hearing for trial, which is often months away, when the case can be heard in full.

If the possession order is granted at the trial stage it takes effect fourteen days after it has been issued, although in some cases this may be extended to six weeks. This would be where it is deemed that the tenant will face serious hardship as a result of the repossession. There are then further delays waiting for a date when the bailiffs can evict.

Given the current backlog of court cases and the workload on court bailiffs long delays are very common.

Grounds for Possession - see addendum below*

There are currently 19 grounds on which possession can be sought, 9 Mandatory grounds, which if proven the court must issue a possession order, and 10 discretionary which leaves the decision as to whether to issue a possession order in the hands of a judge.

The Mandatory Grounds

Ground 1: landlord re-taking property as their own home
Ground 2: a mortgaged property repossessed by the lender
Ground 3: a holiday let
Ground 4: property tied to an educational institution
Ground 5: housing for a minister of religion
Ground 6: for refurbishment
Ground 7: death of the tenant
Ground 7A: tenant's conviction for serious offence
Ground 7B: service on landlord of notice by Secretary of State in respect of illegal immigrants
Ground 8: rent arrears

The Discretionary Grounds

Ground 9: offered alternative accommodation
Ground 10: rent arrears
Ground 11: regular failure to pay rent
Ground 12: breach of other terms of the tenancy agreement
Ground 13: neglect of property
Ground 14: anti-social behaviour
Ground 14a: domestic violence
Ground 15: poor treatment of furnishings
Ground 16: tenancy tied to employment
Ground 17: tenant obtained tenancy by providing false statements

Prempeh v Lakhany

In the Prempeh v Lakhany case the Section 8 notice was signed by the landlord's agent, not the landlord.

The notice did not refer to the landlord, Mrs Lakhany, by her name or her address. An accompanying covering letter supplied by the agent stated that they were acting on behalf of the landlord, Mrs Lakhany, but it did not give her address.

Missing address

The main question for the Court of Appeal was, does it matter that a Section 8 notice does not contain the landlord's own name and address and the landlord's signature?

The tenant had claimed that as this was a 'demand for rent' that it should contains these as it must comply with section 47 of the Landlord & tenant Act 1987.

However, the Court of Appeal held that the government's own prescribed form for a Section 8 notice does not require the landlord's own name and address, in the case where it is signed by the landlord's agent.

The Court found that there was no space on the prescribed form for additional information to be included and there were no instructions for the landlord's details to be included.

Good news?

This, it would seem, is good news for landlords and their agents as it removes the possibility of the tenants successfully challenging the validity of a section 8 notice based on previous legislation.

The ruling in this case applies to Section 8 notices so there is no certainty yet that it applies to Section 21 notices, thought one would think so.

Landlords serving both Section 8 and Section 21 notices are faced with the same difficulty: that is the prescribed forms do not leave much space for the landlord's name and address to be inserted.

So, it is very likely that following the Prempeh appeal judgement another court could take the same view on section 21 notices.

An important point here though is that had a covering letter not been supplied, identifying the landlord, the outcome may have been different, even though in some cases the tenant would be well aware of the details of the landlord.

It would seem sensible therefore that any notice served by an agent, be it section 21 or section 8, should contain the landlord's details, name and address.


Details of the The Renters (Reform) Bill have now been released by Government as the Bill paasess through Parliament showing its plans to amend Section 8 when Section 21 is abolished. It says the proposals will make it easier for landlords and letting agents to regain possession of their properties.

The government has also stated that there will be a quicker route to possession for "responsible" landlords from anti-social tenants and to sell their properties if they need to.

It has since emerged that given the state of the courts and the delays in the system, the abolition of Section 21 will likely be delayed until the courts system is improved.

Below is what is expected in the changes to Section 8, but bear in mind these could change before the Bill is introduced:

New grounds to be introduced?

- A ground to sell the property

- A ground for repeated serious arrears

- A ground to ensure compliance with enforcement action

- Grounds for agricultural workers, and changing employment criteria

- Grounds for supported accommodation and homelessness duty

Changes to existing grounds?

- Evictions for antisocial behaviour

- Moving into the property

- Student accommodation

- Ministers of Religion

- Redevelopment

- Death of the tenant

- Rent arrears

Do your own research before relying on the information which is only tentative at this stage.


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