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Private renting rights and responsibililties Renting Advice   |   Aug 5, 2015

What is a Section 21 Notice?

Section 21 gives a landlord an automatic right of possession without having to give any grounds (reasons) once the fixed term has expired.

For renters with an assured shorthold tenancy contract, a section 21 notice is the most common way for a landlord to regain possession of a property. If you’ve been served a section 21 notice you don't have to leave the property immediately; you must be given at least 2 month's written notice, and this date must be after the end of your fixed term.

Serving Notice

For assured shorthold tenancy agreements signed before 1 October 2015, your landlord can serve notice at any time during the fixed term of your tenancy agreement. It used to be very common for renters to be given a section 21 notice at the time of signing their contract.

For new & renewal assured shorthold tenancy agreements signed on or after 1 October 2015, your landlord must wait 4 months from the start of your contract before a section 21 notice can be served.

A section 21 notice can be served during the fixed term of your tenancy agreement only if the intended date for repossession of the property is after the end of the fixed term.

The Notice

For assured shorthold tenancy agreements signed before 1 October 2015, there is no special form on which notice must be served, but this must be received in writing.

For new & renewal assured shorthold tenancy agreements signed on or after 1 October 2015, your landlord must use a special form to deliver the notice in writing.

Regardless of when you signed your contract, this written notice must give you at least 2 months notice between the date which it is served and the intended date of possession.

Intended Date of Possession

The intended date of possession must be:

  • after the end of the fixed term period of the tenancy agreement,
  • at least 2 months after the date on which notice has been served.

You can only be asked to vacate the property on a date that falls after the fixed term period of your assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreement. If you’re being asked to leave before the end of your contract then your landlord should issue you a Section 8 Notice.

Breaking it Down

A Section 21 notice cannot be used:

  • to gain possession of the property during the fixed term of your tenancy agreement,
  • within the first 4 months of your tenancy (if contracts were signed on or after 1 Oct 2015),
  • if you, the tenant, paid a deposit that hasn't been protected in accordance with the tenancy deposit schemes.

A Section 21 notice must be served by the landlord:

  • in writing,
  • on a special form (for contracts signed on or after 1 Oct 2015),
  • with at least 2 months notice of the intent to regain possession of the property,
  • with an intended date of possession that falls after the end date of the fixed term.

 

Let's consider these three scenarios, in which we assume the fixed term of the tenancy agreement is due to expire on the 15th May.

Scenario 1: It's 1st March. You have just received written notice from your landlord informing you they wish to regain possession of the property on 5th May.

Section 21 cannot be used in this instance: the intended date of possession is before the end of your fixed term.

Scenario 2: It's 20th March. You have just received written notice from your landlord informing you they wish to regain possession of the property on 16th May.

Section 21 cannot be used in this instance: the intended date of possession is less than 2 months from the date of the notice.

Scenario 3: It's 20th March. You have just received written notice from your landlord informing you they wish to regain possession of the property on 30th May.

Section 21 can be used in this instance: the intended date of possession is more than 2 months from the date of the notice, and falls after the end of the fixed term.

What Should You Do?

  1. Check that all the dates have been calculated correctly. If they haven’t, the notice might not be valid but you will need to discuss immediately with the issuer of the notice.
  2. Check you deposit. If your deposit hasn’t been properly protected with one of the three government approved tenancy deposit protection schemes then the section 21 notice might not be valid.

You can challenge the eviction if the section 21 notice isn't valid, so make sure you speak up early to avoid complications further down the road.

We would highly recommend that you seek legal advice or get in contact with Shelter if you are unsure of what to do. If you refuse to vacate the property after your 2 months notice has ended, the landlord can apply to court for a 'possession order'. Assuming the section 21 notice was served correctly, it is highly likely that this will be granted and you will be taken to court.

 

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