The notice contains two important dates. The first is the date on which you sign the notice (“first date”). The second is the date after which you are notifying your tenant that you will start possession proceedings (“second date”).
The second date is one of the most important details to be included in the notice. If you get that wrong any possession proceedings which you bring at a later date may be struck out by the court with an order that you have to pay your tenant’s costs. That can be a very expensive mistake to make.
You need to calculate the second date by having regard to the following.
The notice needs to be formally served upon your tenant. Your tenancy agreement usually stipulates how you should serve such notices and you need to check the agreement to make sure that you comply with it when serving the notice. If the agreement does not clearly stipulate how you must serve the Section 8 Notice, then you should serve it by handing it to your tenant in person – this is called “personal service”. You can also get a process server to do this on your behalf. There are other ways of serving a notice such as putting it through the tenant’s letterbox. You can also post the notice to them. These latter two means are less preferable as the tenant might argue at a later stage that they did not receive the notice. If you know and can give evidence to the court that you handed the notice to your tenant then that is likely to be accepted by the court. We therefore recommend that personal service is used in all cases.
You then need to complete a certificate of service and we recommend that you use the following prescribed form suitably adapted to include your and your tenant’s details: –
Once the notice has been served properly the court will work out what is the date of “deemed service”. In the case of personal service the date of deemed service is the day on which you hand the document to your tenant or leave it at the premises by putting it through the letterbox provided you do this before 4:30 pm on a business day. If the document is served on a non-business day then it will be deemed to have been served on the next business day thereafter. For example if you serve the notice on a Friday before 4:30 pm it will be deemed served on that Friday. If you serve it after 4:30 pm on that Friday, it will be deemed served on the following Monday.
The “second date” should be must at least three calendar months after the date of “deemed service”.
Let’s take an example. Your notice is dated 15 April 2020 and you hand it to your tenant on that same date before 4:30 pm. We recommend that the “second date” stipulated in the notice should be no earlier than 18 July 2020 so as to avoid any arguments that the tenant has not received the full three months notice. In this case you could have stipulated a “second date” of, say, 16 July 2020, but it is not worth taking a risk for the sake of a couple of days here or there.