A Complete Guide to Section 21

A Complete Guide to Section 21

What is a Section 21 notice?

In England and Wales, landlords must serve tenants a Section 21 notice (also known as notice to quit) to regain possession of a property. A Section 21 notice is used if they are unable to use Section 8, or do not want to (see below for more information). A Section 21 notice can only be issued on a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. When issuing a Section 21 notice, the landlord does not need to provide a reason for wishing to take possession.

A Section 21 notice must give tenants at least two months’ notice to vacate a property. A Section 21 notice cannot be used during a fixed term. However, landlords can use a Section 21 notice to conclude a tenancy at the end of an agreed fixed term, or during a periodic tenancy.

Recent updates to Section 21

The government have recently proposed the abolition of Section 21 and will be consulting on this with the stated view of bringing in new legislation as soon as possible. With the proposed Government changes, landlords will need to use the Section 8 process in order to regain possession of their own properties. This means that landlords can pursue possession but only under specific conditions, such as where the tenant has breached the tenancy. This can include situations such as damage to the property, antisocial behaviour and several months of rent arrears.

The Government has stated that they are looking to make changes to the Section 8 process, including speeding up the process as well as introducing new grounds, such as when a landlord wants to sell or use the property as their primary residence.

At the moment, it is unclear what reforms will take place, what the fine details may be and when this will happen. There is also no guarantee that the proposed changes Section 8 will have the intended effect. The Government will need to introduce and pass legislation in Parliament in order to make these changes. Furthermore, these amendments are not expected to be retrospective and therefore existing tenancies should not be affected.

So what is the NLA doing?

We believe that the Government is being very short-sighted with this new policy. We’ve launched a postcard campaign to tell the Prime Minister directly the impact that this will have on the housing market and the lettings industry. These postcards will be delivered directly to Number 10 as a physical indication of the opposition of the abolishment of Section 21.

Sign the campaign to save Section 21

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Reasons to serve a Section 21 notice?

There are many reasons to serve a Section 21 notice. Some of these can include the landlord wanting to move back into the property, or to refurbish the house. A Section 21 notice is often referred to as a no-fault eviction which means that the landlord does not need to prove the tenancy terms have been breached. It also allows the landlord to regain possession of their property without giving the tenant a reason why.

You can evict tenants who have an assured shorthold tenancy using a Section 21 or Section 8 notice, or both. You can use a Section 8 notice if your tenants have breached the terms of the tenancy. You can use a Section 21 notice to evict your tenants either at the end of the fixed term tenancy if there’s a contract or during a tenancy with no fixed end date, known as the periodic tenancy.

Serving a Section 21 notice correctly

You must always give your tenants at least two months’ notice to leave a property.

When serving a Section 21 notice landlords must use the correct version of the form. For a tenancy agreed from 1 October 2015 in England, landlords must use Section 21 Form 6a. For other ASTs in England and Wales, there are different forms. All versions are downloadable for NLA members at NLA Forms.

Furthermore, landlords in England cannot use a Section 21 notice if they have not provided the tenants copies of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate, a gas safety certificate and a ‘How to Rent’ guide (only for tenancies agreed from 1 October 2015).

Landlords also must make sure that tenants have been given the prescribed information around tenancy deposit protection. All security deposits must be protected with a deposit protection service in line with regulations.

It is suggested that when a landlord issues documents, they should ask the tenants to sign and confirm receipt or to send an acknowledgement email if the documents are sent digitally. This is helpful for if an eviction is challenged and goes to court.

When a landlord can’t use a Section 21 notice?

A landlord cannot use a Section 21 notice if any of the following apply: 

  • It is less than four months since the tenancy started (in England) 
  • A tenant is asked to leave before the end of a fixed term, unless there is a clause in the contract that allows the landlord to do this 
  • The property is a licensable HMO or requires a selective licence and does not have a licence from the council 
  • The council has issued an Improvement Notice or Notice of Emergency Remedial Action for the property in the last 6 months (in England) 
  • The tenancy started after April 2007 and the landlord has not put the tenant’s deposit in a deposit protection scheme 
  • he landlord has not repaid any unlawful fees or deposits that they have charged the tenant 
  • The property is not registered with Rent Smart Wales and the landlord or managing agent does not have a licence (Wales only)

Understanding the Section 21 eviction process

  • Take our one day course on property possession and get a a detailed understanding of how to end challenging tenancies and gain possession of your property yourself.
  • Whether you are bringing a tenancy to an end, or taking on new tenants, download our range of approved forms and resources.
  • Our landlord advice line is manned by experts in rental legislation, property licensing and common landlord pain points. Every advisor is an experienced landlord with firsthand knowledge of the private rented sector. Give our advice line a call.
  • Take the strain, aggravation and risk away from repossession with the NLA Property Repossession service.

To take advantage and use all of these resources, become a member of the NLA and receive ongoing support.