What is a Section 21 notice?

A Section 21 notice is a legal notice for tenants to move out of a property either after a fixed-term tenancy has ended (provided there’s a tenancy agreement) or during a periodic tenancy with no fixed end date.

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Has Section 21 been abolished?

Section 21 has not been abolished, and Section 21 notices are still valid. However, the government has expressed the intention to scrap the use of section 21 notices as part of the Renters Reform Bill

Updated 24/04/24: During the third reading of the bill, the government's amendment was discussed. It requires the Lord Chancellor to assess England's county court possession order process and enforcement. This needs to be done before no-fault evictions are abolished. In this reading, it was said that it is being explored whether serious eviction cases could be prioritised in court listings. 

Assessing court reforms is necessary to evaluate whether the system could handle the rise in Section 8 eviction notices following the abolition of Section 21. The danger would be to overburden the legal system, leading to delays for tenants and landlords.

 

When will Section 21 be scrapped?

The short answer is we don’t know. It depends on what happens to the Renters Reform Bill. The Bill has been met with stiff opposition from both pro-tenant and pro-landlord campaigners, who have each suggested amendments to strengthen their positions.

There is also the thorny issue of the General Election. It has been suggested that this could take place as soon as Spring 2024. Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove has promised to abolish Section 21 evictions by the election. If Labour wins, they have promised to abolish Section 21 evictions on their first day in office.

 

How will landlords evict tenants once Section 21 is abolished?

The Renters Reform Bill intends to replace all fixed-term tenancies with periodic tenancies on a monthly rolling basis, meaning the tenant can give two month’s notice before leaving. Section 8 grounds for eviction will be strengthened to account for more circumstances where a landlord may wish to gain possession of their property.

 

How to serve a Section 21 notice correctly

A Section 21 notice must be served correctly in order to be valid. You must use Tenancy Form 6A or write your own notice as long as it provides the same information as Form 6A. Any missing information could result in a delay.

When can I serve a Section 21 notice?

You can only serve a Section 21 notice once four months have passed in a tenancy. You cannot serve before a fixed-term tenancy has ended unless the contract allows you to do so.

How much does a Section 21 notice cost?

There is no cost to issue a Section 21 notice. The template is freely available here on the GOV.UK website. However, if the tenants have not left by the date specified in the notice, this could require the landlord to apply for a possession order. They cost £355 each.

What does a Section 21 notice look like?

You can see what the government’s standard Section 21 notice (Form 6A) looks like here.

How long does it take to get a Section 21?

When you serve a Section 21, you must give your tenants at least two months’ notice. If this notice period expires and the tenants have not left the property, the landlord can apply to court for a possession order within six months of the Section 21 notice.

How long is a Section 21 notice valid for?

In most cases, a Section 21 notice is valid for six months, during which the landlord can apply to court if tenants have not left once the notice period has passed.

What happens after a Section 21 notice expires?

Once the notice period for a Section 21 eviction has expired, the landlord can apply to court for a possession order if the tenant remains in the property. This will give a final date for possession. The time it takes for the court to grant a possession order can vary between weeks or months, depending on how busy the court is and whether it is decided that a hearing is needed. If the tenant has not left by this date, the landlord can obtain an eviction warrant, meaning the court will send bailiffs to regain possession with two weeks’ notice.

What makes a Section 21 notice invalid?

The following circumstances render a Section 21 notice invalid, meaning you will be unable to get a possession order from a court:

  • The notice period is less than two months.
  • The notice is served during the first four months of the original tenancy.
  • The landlord applies to court more than six months after giving notice.
  • The deposit is not protected in a government-approved scheme.
  • The deposit was not protected within 30 days of the landlord receiving it.
  • The deposit is more than five weeks’ rent if the tenancy started on or after 1 June 2019.
  • A fee has been charged that has been banned by the Tenancy Fees Act 2019.
  • The tenant has not been given a valid gas safety certificate.
  • The tenant has not been given a valid energy performance certificate.
  • The tenant has not been given the latest version of the government’s “How to rent” guide.

If a property falls into a category that requires a licence from a local authority and the landlord has not:

  • Applied for a licence
  • Received a temporary exception from the local authority

If the council has issued the landlord an improvement notice or an emergency works notice following a tenant complaining about the condition of the property, the landlord cannot issue a Section 21 notice for six months.

Can a tenant leave before the end of a Section 21 notice?    

Yes. The notice period is a legal requirement for the tenant. If they wish to leave the property before the two months are up, they can, but they must continue to pay rent throughout the notice period.

 

How to calculate Section 21 notice dates            

In most circumstances, your Section 21 notice must be served at least two months before the date that tenants have been asked to leave the property.

 

Miscellaneous questions about Section 21 notices

Can the landlord change the locks after serving a Section 21 notice?    

No, it is illegal for the landlord to do anything to force a tenant to leave before obtaining an eviction warrant.

Can the landlord increase rent after serving a Section 21 notice?    

If the tenancy is fixed term, rent can only be increased with the tenant’s permission or if there is a clause in the agreement to do so.

If the tenancy is periodic, the landlord can issue a Section 13 notice. This cannot be issued during the first year of the tenancy, and must provide one month’s notice of the rent increase.

Can you serve a Section 21 notice with an expired EPC?  

No, you must have provided tenants with a current energy performance certificate for the property before they moved in.

Can you serve a Section 21 notice without a valid gas safety certificate?

No. If the property has a gas supply, you must have issued tenants an up-to-date gas safety certificate before serving a Section 21 notice.

Does a Section 21 notice have to be hand-delivered?  

No, other options are available. You can serve via email, provided your tenants have provided consent to receive notices this way. Or you could serve through postal delivery. The most important thing is to provide evidence that you have sent the notice.

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