Last edited 04 Jun 2021

Section 21 notice


[edit] Introduction

A notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (also known as a Section 21 notice of possession or a Section 21 eviction) is part of the procedure landlords in England and Wales must follow to evict tenants under certain conditions. There are different procedures in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

[edit] Assured shorthold tenancies

The procedure associated with Section 21 notices applies to assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs). These are the types of residential tenancy agreements used by most private landlords and housing associations.

There are two types of ASTs - periodic (those that run weekly or monthly with no fixed end date) or fixed-term (which run for a specified period of time). Section 21 notices are used when tenants have not broken the terms of the tenancy, but landlords wish to take the property back once the fixed-term ends. They can also be used for purposes of eviction during a periodic tenancy. In either case, landlords do not have to have a reason for taking back possession of the property.

Tenants may be able to challenge the eviction if they wish to remain in the property. In these instances, landlords may need to go to court to complete the repossession process.

[edit] Specifics of a Section 21 notice

A Section 21 notice is given by the landlord to the tenant and is considered the start of the eviction process.

If the tenancy began (or was renewed after) 30 September 2015 in England, landlords can either write their own notice or complete Tenancy form 6A: Notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy.

Landlords in Wales can write their own notice but must explain that the notice is being served under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

Once the notice has been given, landlords should retain proof of their actions using either a completed certification of service form (N215) or annotating the notice with the words “served by [landlord’s name] on [the date]”. The N215 form or annotated notice are used to initiate the next step of the eviction proceedings.

[edit] Notice periods for vacating the premises

Tenants are typically given at least two months to leave a property once a Section 21 notice has been issued.

NB Due to circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary measures were brought in:

  • If issued between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020 - at least three months (in England).
  • If issued on or after 29 August 2020 - at least six months (in England).
  • If issued on or after 24 July 2020 - at least six months (in Wales).
  • If issued on or after 1 June 2021 - at least 4 months (in England).

In instances of fixed-term tenancies in England that include a clause for a contractual periodic tenancy (one that runs for a predetermined time but with no fixed end date) the notice period must be the same as the rental period as long as that period is more than two months. Tenants in Wales are permitted to stay for the notice period as well as time covered by their last rent payment if they are contracted under a periodic tenancy agreement.

Under some circumstances, landlords can serve a Section 21 eviction notice and a Section 13 notice (for a rent increase) simultaneously.

[edit] Steps to repossession

If tenants have not moved out of the property by the date on the Section 21 notice, then the landlord must apply to the court for a standard possession order. This is also the step that is taken if rent on the property is still owed by the tenant and a repayment plan cannot be arranged.

The next step is a warrant for possession, which can be initiated through Form N325: Request a warrant for possession of land. The Government also provides a possession claim service that is available online. This action starts proceedings that will result in eviction if the tenants do not leave by the date on the court order.

In instances where rent is not owed, landlords can apply for accelerated possession if the tenants have not vacated the property by the date on the Section 21 notice. Some landlords may wish to pursue this option even if rent is owed so they can take back possession of the property. They may then address the issue of back rent in a separate court claim.

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