What It Means to Serve a Section 21 Notice

In the United Kingdom, it’s considered unlawful if a landlord forces their tenant to leave the property without following the correct legal procedure. Once a tenant has entered into an assured shorthold tenancy, they have the security of tenure and can remain in a property indefinitely until permission has been granted to instruct a court authorised bailiff to obtain vacant possession. Unfortunately, a court authorised bailiff will not act until a Judge has formally granted permission to terminate the tenancy.  To get to the point whereby a Judge will grant an order for possession, they will require a landlord to serve a notice seeking possession and prove they are legally entitled to end the tenancy.

A section 21 notice is regarded as the right notice to serve where the tenant is on an assured shorthold tenancy but has not breached the terms of the agreement.  It provides the tenant with legislatively mandated information, which is deemed essential before any decision to terminate the tenancy can be made.   In addition, it offers the tenant a window of opportunity to leave the property voluntarily.  A date must be stated on the notice, which informs the tenant from when the landlord can enforce the notice.  The time frame which a landlord must offer before they can take enforcement activity is also dictated by legislation.  Failure to adhere to the time frame will render the notice defective.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Government revised the duration for enforcement of a section 21 notice on almost a quarterly basis.  In England, the mandatory time frame ranged from 2 months to 6 months, and is now currently at 4 months, but this reduces to 2 months from 1st October 2021.  The time frame in Wales is currently six months but is likely to taper down as we come out of the pandemic.

What Is the Section 21 Notice Of Landlord Seeking Possession?

A landlord can use a section 21 notice to evict their tenant on a non-fault basis. A section 21 notice cannot be served within the first four months of a tenancy but can be served at any time thereafter.  This notice, unlike a section 8 notice, does not permit enforcement during the fixed term of a tenancy unless there is a properly qualified break clause in the tenancy agreement. If a property is located in England, then a landlord is required to serve a Form 6a or a Section 21(1)(b) or Section 21(4)(a) notice if the property is located in Wales, in accordance with section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

A Valid Section 21 Notice Means:

Once a section 21 notice has been served, a landlord must wait for the mandated time frame to elapse before moving forward with enforcement. Should their tenant fail to surrender the tenancy and, as importantly, ensure the property is offered vacant possession, then enforcement is permitted by way of the county court under whose jurisdiction the property falls?

When enforcing a section 21 notice, a landlord must use the correct claim form and provide a host of documents proving they have complied with their obligations during the tenancy before a court will consider the request to terminate the tenancy.  Additional considerations include, but are not limited to, the compliant registration of a deposit. A Judge will consider the request for possession and make a determination once the tenant has filed their response or the time frame to file their response has elapsed.  If a Judgment is entered in the landlord’s favour then the court will notify the tenant and provide a date on which the tenant should leave the property.

An EXIT signChallenging the Eviction

A tenant may challenge the eviction brought in breach of section 21 of the Housing Act, but a Judge will scrutinise the paperwork vigorously.  Once a landlord has filed a claim for possession with the county court, the tenant will receive a copy of the claim form and be offered 14 days to respond to the claim. If the response materially challenges the validity of the information provided by the landlord or highlights a failure by the landlord to follow the correct procedure, then it is likely the court will list the case for a hearing to hear the arguments and review the supporting evidence.  A Judge may strike out the case without further input if there is a demonstrable material defect.

If the section 21 notice served is valid, and the case is determined in the landlord’s favour the tenant will be offered 14 days to surrender the tenancy, but they can ask for an additional 28 days if they can demonstrate exceptional hardship.  Only once this time frame has elapsed does the landlord have the right to instruct a bailiff to remove the tenant from the property.  It is therefore essential that a valid section 21 notice is served; otherwise, the claim will not succeed, and the landlord will be pushed back to square one.

Do not underestimate the importance of serving a valid section 21 notice!!!

Do you wish to Issue Section 21 notice to remove your tenant? Get legal help! Landlord Assist is Kent’s foremost eviction company that specialises in residential tenant eviction. Our team of property eviction specialists have a proven record for success and are ready to speak to you regarding your Assured Shorthold Tenancy.  Need help reclaiming disputed tenancy deposits?  Speak to Landlord Assist!

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