Section 21 notices - housing law solicitors

If you have received a section 21 notice and you need some more information on the process or implications of the notice then feel free to contact one of our housing law team on 0203 816 9282 or complete our online enquiry form. We offer fixed price 30 minute appointments for £150.

A section 21 notice is used by a landlord to gain possession of a property that has been let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Most UK tenancies are now ASTs, as this is the default rental agreement between most landlords and tenants. However, it is always worth checking what type of tenancy you have as it could be a number of others, such as an Assured Tenancy.

Our housing law experts have a specialist quality mark from the Legal Aid Agency for housing cases, this means that we will often be able to provide assistance to you free of charge if you qualify for help under the legal aid scheme and are based in the North West of England.

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How do you know if a tenancy is an AST?

An AST will have been created on or after 15 January 1989 for a private rented property. It is used where the landlord doesn’t live at the property and the property is the tenant’s main accommodation. A tenancy won’t be an AST if it is a holiday let, the landlord is a council, it is a business tenancy, or it began before 15 January 1989. A tenancy where the rent is either less than £250 (£1,000 in London) a year or more than £100,000 a year will also not be an AST.

What does the section 21 notice do?

Essentially, it is the landlord requesting possession of the property. It allows a tenant to be evicted from the property without the landlord having to give a reason for doing so.

How does a landlord evict under a section 21 notice?

A landlord must give his or her tenants two months within which to leave after the section 21 notice has been served. If the tenants don’t leave after the two months have expired then the landlord can apply to the local court for a possession order to remove the tenants. In order for a possession order to be successful, the tenancy must have run for at least six months, the initial term of the contract must have ended and the deposit that was paid over at the start of the contract must have been correctly protected – i.e. with one of the government backed deposit protection schemes. The section 21 notice must also have been provided in the correct form.

What is the correct form for a section 21 notice?

A Section 21 Notice must give two full months notice and be in writing. When the notice is being served either in person (by an agent or landlord), or by dropping it through the letterbox, a landlord will need a reliable witness to prove that service took place or a tenant could query having received the notice. The letter can also be served by post, although without a receipt of postage it is often difficult for landlords to prove when it was served. The service date must be calculated in accordance with the tenancy agreement and payment of rent and needs to be considered on a case by case basis.

Why is service important?

Landlords need to be able to prove a tenant received the notice on a certain date, as this affects the date after which possession can be gained – which must be at least two months later. In the case of a section 21 notice for a fixed term tenancy, the two months notice period must not expire before the end of the fixed term, although the notice can be served within it.

How long does the section 21 process take?

It can take weeks or months for tenants to be removed, particularly if there are mistakes in the documentation or the time periods. Once the notice has been served and the two months expired, the landlord will then need to obtain a possession order. If a tenant doesn’t leave the property within the time period stated in the possession order (usually 14-28 days or 42 for a situation of excessive hardship) then a landlord can apply to the court to use bailiffs to evict the tenant.

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