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POSTED 27 November 2018 Lettings

Section 21 Notice of Possession Explained

What is a Section 21 Notice of Posession?

A section 21 notice of possession, also known as a section 21 notice or a section 21 eviction, is the document a landlord must serve their tenant with in order to start the process of taking possession of a shorthold tenancy property.

The notices can only be issued when:

  • A fixed term tenancy ends (unless the contract has a clause to say the notice may be issued before then)
  • During a tenancy with no fixed date, these are known as periodic tenancies

Why you might get a 'Section 21 notice'

A landlord does not need to provide a tenant with any reason for issuing a section 21 notice; however, you may receive one for any number of reasons. It could be simply that the landlord wants to take possession of the property with the intention of living in it.

Another common motive is that the landlord is selling the property, or they may want to carry out repairs or improvements on the property.

What is the notice period?

A section 21 notice can be issued any time six months after the start of a shorthold tenancy; however, eviction cannot be enforced earlier than the end of the fixed term. If you receive a section 21 eviction when you have fewer than two months remaining on the agreement, your landlord still has to provide you with at least two months’ notice.

The section 21 notice should be served according to the means specified in the tenancy agreement, for example delivery in person or by first class recorded post. If the tenant is in agreement with the notice, they will sign it and return a copy to the landlord.

Refusal to leave

If a tenant refuses to leave a property after the notice period has expired, a landlord will need to go to court to apply for a possession order – this can take several weeks.

A court may rule in favour of the tenant, allowing them to stay; however, in the event the court sides with the landlord, a tenant will normally be given two to six weeks to leave a property.

If a tenant still refuses to leave the property, a landlord will then need to apply for bailiffs to evict them.

During the entire process, a tenant retains their assured shorthold rights and should continue to pay rent as usual.

Is the notice valid?

There are a number of things that can invalidate a section 21 notice, so if you’re served with one, it’s important to ascertain that it is indeed valid.

The notice may be invalid if:

  • It’s issued less than six months since the start of a tenancy
  • The property is an unlicensed house in multiple occupancy, also known as an HMO
  • A landlord has not previously provided tenants with copies of the Energy Performance Certificate, Gas Safety Certificate or the government’s How to Rent guide

What to do next?

If you have been served with a section 21 eviction notice and are at risk of becoming homeless, you should contact your local council immediately. They may be able to help you keep your home or find somewhere else to live.