Understanding Section 21 Notice

The Section 21 notice is the procedure put in place for a landlord to commence a 3 step eviction process – for tenants with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) contract.

First step – Issuing a Section 21 notice

The landlord does not have to give a reason for wanting the property vacated, but the landlord must give at least 2 months’ notice.
However, the landlord CANNOT use a Section 21 notice to evict the tenant during a fixed term contract, only at the end of the fixed term can 2 months’ notice then be issued.

For the Section 21 to be legal it must:

be delivered to the tenant in writing and give the tenant at least 2 months to vacate the propertysection 21 notice
it must be on s special form IF the tenant signed or renewed a contract after 1st October 2015

Next step – Going through court

If the tenant fails to vacate the property by the agreed date, the landlord can then apply for an Accelerated Possession Order. The eviction process through this possession order normally takes 4 – 6 months.

The tenant has the right to challenge the eviction procedure if they feel the Section 21 notice was not issued correctly or is invalid. The tenant can fill out a defence form to explain to the court why they feel the landlord cannot use the Section 21 notice to evict them (for example a tenant complaining about condition/repairs of the property or the rental deposit was not protected). The tenant will only have 14 days to submit the deference form to the court, if it is not submitted within that time the landlord may proceed with the accelerated possession procedure without the need of a court hearing.

If the court receives a defence form within 14 days,the court will arrange a hearing for both tenant and landlord, in order to evaluate the circumstances, then a judge will make the decision to either dismiss the possession order (in the case of a Section 21 not being valid by the landlord) or the tenant will be given a date to vacate the property.

Final Step – Court Bailiffs

If the case goes through the court and the court then issues a date for the tenant to vacate the property, if the tenant fails to vacate by this date, the landlord can then apply to the court for a bailiff to evict the tenant.

Only court bailiffs have the authority to evict the tenant and remove their belongings from the property – but not by force.
Changes to Section valid from 1st October 2015

These apply for all new assured shorthold tenancies starting after 1 October 2015 (and then after 3 years to all tenancies). By new, that means new, but will include a ‘renewal’ tenancy – a newly produced AST – granted on or after 1 October 2015
Retaliatory Eviction – the provisions of Deregulation Act will come into effect for all new assured shorthold tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015
A section 21 cannot be served in the first 4 months of a tenancy (but this is not applicable to a statutory periodic arising, or a replacement tenancy)
A possession claim cannot be started on a section 21 after the end of 6 months from the date the notice was given
End date for a section 21 notice. The new section 21(4ZA) Housing Act 1988 removes the need for any section 21 notice to expire on the last date of a period of a tenancy (at least in England). Two months notice (for a weekly or monthly rent period) is all that is required. To accompany this is the requirement to repay the tenant pro-rata the ‘unused’ proportion of any rent paid in advance – where the section 21 expires in the course of a rent period

Differences between a Section 21 and Section 8

The differences between a Section 21 and a Section 8 seeking possession are:

For a Section 21 the landlord does not need to give a reason for the tenant eviction, whereas for a Section 8 notice the landlord must meet one of the statutory points for eviction of the tenant (there are 8 mandatory grounds, and the landlord must also adhere to the legislation Schedule 2 of 1988 Housing act).

The landlord can give anything from 2 weeks to 2 months’ notice, depending which mandatory point the tenant has broken.

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