It is likely that we could now see a protocol for section 8 similar to that used by social landlords

The pre-action protocol which prescribes the specific procedures that social landlords should follow before issuing possession claims.

The current version of the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords came into force on 13 January 2020. 

Introduction

The aims of the protocol are:

  • to encourage more pre-action contact and exchange of information between landlord and tenants
  • if possible, to enable landlords and tenants to avoid litigation and settle disputes out of court
  • if court proceedings are inevitable, to enable an effective use of court’s time and resources.

Communications and provision of information

The protocol requires that the landlord should take reasonable steps to ensure that the tenant understands any information provided. The landlord should be able to demonstrate what steps have been taken to this effect.

If the landlord is aware that the tenant is aged under 18 or is particularly vulnerable for other reasons, the landlord should consider at an early stage:

  • whether the tenant has the necessary mental capacity to defend a possession claim and, where appropriate, apply to appoint a litigation friend under Part 21 of the Civil Procedure Rules
  • whether there are any discrimination issues under the Equality Act 2010
  • if the landlord is a local authority, whether there is a need for a community care assessment.

Court proceedings as last resort

Court proceedings should be a landlord’s last resort. Possession proceedings should not be issued prematurely when a settlement out of court is still actively being explored.