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What is a Section 21 Eviction Process?

Being in the business of property in the UK can be tough. Often landowners have to deal with naughty tenants who become a pain for them. As a landlord, you have the option to get rid of these tenants and get back the possession of your property lawfully. A Section 21 notice allows a landlord to evict their tenant and repossess their property at the end of the tenancy. If you’re a landlord who wants to take immediate action to carry out the eviction process and repossess your property let under an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) you should start by serving a valid Section 21 notice as the first step.

What is Section 21 notice?

A section 21 notice is often known as a ‘no-fault possession notice’ as landlords don’t have to give a reason for wanting to take possession of the property if it’s an assured shorthold tenancy. It may also be referred to as an ‘eviction notice’, a ‘notice to quit or a ‘notice seeking possession. It’s like a warning to the tenant that they need to vacate the property after they have received a section 21 notice under the. This section 21 notice can only be used for properties located in England. If you need to evict a tenant in Wales, use a Section 21 notice for Wales. However, a landlord can only serve a section 21 notice in certain circumstances, for example:

  • When the fixed term of the tenancy agreement ends. In the UK, the fixed term is commonly six months to 1 year.
  • If the tenancy doesn’t have a fixed end date – known as a ‘periodic tenancy.
  • A landlord can only serve a tenant with a section 21 notice if the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy.

A Section 8 notice on the other hand is an alternative to Section 21 and is used when a tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement. Unlike the Section 21 notice Section, 8 Notice must give a reason or reasons, called ‘grounds for possession’.

For a landlord Section, 21 notice has always been the simpler of the two options to end a tenancy. The court hearing is not required for serving a Section 21 notice. However, a quicker court process is available – this is referred to as the ‘accelerated possession procedure’.

The Notice is solely to obtain possession of the property. It is generally sufficient for a tenant to leave the property, but it must be legally valid for the tenant to be forced to leave. The landlord must wait until after the Notice period (the Notice period) and then file a claim in court to get a possession order and a Section 21 eviction warrant, which is served by court bailiffs.

The Differences Between Section 21(b) and Section 21(a)

Where there is a fixed term tenancy in place, and the Section 21 Notice is served on or before the last day of the fixed term, the landlord must give notice under Section 21 (1) (b).

Where there is a fixed-term tenancy, and the term has expired, notice must be given under Section 21 (4) (a) of the Housing Act 1988. When there is no fixed term — for example, a different type of tenancy such as an assured shorthold tenancy — the notice is given under Section 21(4) (a).

What makes section 21 invalid?

Section 21 notifications must provide a tenant with two months’ notice from the date of service. A section 21 notification must also meet a number of standards in order to be legal.

  1. If the landlord doesn’t fulfil the following requirements, the notice will be invalid. The tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). A tenant who has an excluded tenancy or an assured and regulated tenancy face different eviction rules.
  2. The landlord is protecting the tenant’s deposit in a government-authorised scheme. A tenant must be given prescribed information with a deposit certificate within 30 days after paying their deposit.
  3. The tenant hasn’t recently made complaints about the condition of the property.
  4. An “Improvement Notice” or “Notice of Emergency Remedial Action” hasn’t been made by a local authority within the last six months.
  5. The fixed term has ended. The landlord can serve section 21 at any time during the tenancy, but the notice date can’t end before the end of the fixed term.
  6. A tenant must’ve received a copy of the gas safety certificate, an Energy Performance Certificate and the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide during their tenancy.
  7. The landlord has followed the correct procedure for serving notice.

How To Serve a Section 21?

It is essential to properly prepare and serve the Section 21 Notice. Otherwise, a court may declare the Notice invalid, allowing the tenant to avoid eviction.

A landlord must use Form 6a if the tenancy began or was renewed after September 30, 2015 — otherwise, the Notice can be included within a letter but must contain all of the same information. Normally, a Section 21 Notice must provide the tenants at least two months’ notice. Depending on the date on the Notice, the Notice time may be extended. In England and Wales, the rules are different.

Furthermore, when a landlord serves notice to a tenant, they must prove that the tenant received the notice.

Advised ways of serving notice include |

Personal delivery | The term “personal delivery” refers to the act of physically presenting the notice to the tenant. Notice is served on the day it is delivered in this case. For landlords looking for a quick eviction, this is typically the best option.

Left at address | A landlord can achieve this by creating an envelope addressed to the tenant and leaving it at the property, such as through the letterbox. The considered date of service in this scenario will be three days after the delivery.

Recorded delivery |The landlord will not have served the notice if the mail is returned undelivered. If the tenant accepts the delivery, the notification is delivered on the day of the delivery.

Process server | a process server is a professional service that serves legal notices. A process server will produce a proof of service that is fit for the court.

First-class post | A landlord can also deliver a notice by mail. The notification time will be two days due to the fact that first-class mail takes two working days to arrive.

Email | A landlord can send an email notice to a tenant. If the landlord sent the email before 4:30 p.m. on a business day, the notice is considered served on the day of delivery. If a landlord sends the notice after 4:30 p.m., it is considered served the following business day.

When serving a section 21 notice, a landlord must keep proof that the notice was delivered.

When serving a section 21 notice, a landlord must ensure they have proof that they served the notice. This proof is important in a situation where the eviction is contested.

What if the tenant hasn’t vacated the property by the notice date?

The tenancy does not come to an end by serving a section 21 notice. The notice is like a warning for the tenant that they have to vacate the property. If a tenant fails to vacate the property by the deadline specified in the notice, the landlord may file an accelerated possession claim in court.

If the tenant refuses to leave the premises after the landlord has issued a possession claim, the landlord must apply for a warrant of possession as the final step. Suppose the courts grant the application for a warrant of possession. In that case, it will permit bailiffs to remove the tenants from the property.

Summing-up

If you are a landlord or agent who needs to regain possession of a property a Section 21 Notice can be a useful way to achieve this. Shergroup’s specialist litigation solicitor can draft a valid Notice and can advise the relevant rules in England and Wales applicable at the time. Further our eviction experts can advise you of your options to regain possession as quickly as possible. We are a one-stop-shop for all your property matters from preparing a correct legal notice to serving the notice and from getting a possession order for you to enforce the order. For more information, please contact one of our business advisors who will guide you with the next step you need to take in order to recover the possession of your property.

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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