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Section 21 Notice - Possession

Filling in a Section 21 Notice

Apart from the initial creation of a tenancy using a tenancy agreement  the other most widely used form on our website is our free Section 21 Notice for possession.

What is a Section 21 Notice?

Under the Housing Act 1988, a landlord who has granted an assured shorthold tenancy has a legal right to get his property back at the end of the tenancy.  In order to invoke this right, the landlord is required to follow the correct legal procedure which includes service of a notice (under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988) on their tenant.  Section 21 is divided into subsections with different rules applying to notice served during the fixed term of a tenancy and notice for possession that is served during a periodic tenancy.

How to fill in a Section 21 Notice

The first thing to be aware of is filling in a Section 21 Notice is a doddle so don't panic.  A Section 21 Notice comprises of no more than a couple of sheets of A4 and in essence comprises of 4 bits of information:

  • The name of the landlord
  • The name of the tenant
  • The address of the rental property
  • The date of that the landlord needs their rental property back

The whole process of completing a free Section 21 Notice has been made much simpler as a result of the changes to the legislation relating to tenancies post 1st October 2015 the new Section 21 Notice should make things more straightforward. However, the politicians don't make it easy so having altered the legislation so that no longer should a landlord not get possession on the basis that they have got their dates confused and that the date possession was at the end of the rental period.

However, the politicians don't make it easy so having altered the legislation so that no longer should a landlord not get possession on the basis that they have got their dates wrong they have now confused the issue by introducing an entirely new Section 21 Notice along with a whole number of requirements on a landlord in order to make it valid.

Which Section 21 Notice should I use?

The name of the game now is making sure that a landlord selects the correct Section 21 Notice in the first place and then has served the correct forms or has gone through the right procedures to make it valid.  The 3 types of Section 21 Notices to be used are:

1. Section 21 (1)(b) – can be used to serve notice whether or not in the fixed term. It can be used for all section 21 notices EXCEPT where the tenancy has been periodic from the start or the tenancy agreement allows a contractual continuation at the end of the tenancy (this will be in a landlords tenancy agreement and will say something like at the end of the fixed term the tenancy will continue as a statutory tenancy; this means that it is contractual because it is in the contract – i.e. the tenancy agreement). It does not have to end at the end of a tenancy period and just needs to be two months taking into account service of the notice – so usually 2 months and a few days.

2. Section 21 (4)(a) – has to be used if always periodic (i.e. no fixed term) or if the tenancy agreement states that the tenancy continues contractually at the end of the fixed term (see above) and has to end at the end of a tenancy period so if the tenancy runs from the 15th of a month the notice must be at least two months and expire on the 14th of the relevant month. As an example if you serve this notice on the 18th of August there has to be at least two months – so October – but then it has to end at the end of the tenancy period so in this case the notice would expire on the 14th November.

3.  Section 21 6 (a) is a prescribed form and was introduced as as result of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Pescribed  Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 . This Section 21 Notice is intended to make the serving of notice for possession easier for landlords by removing the requirement to have the date to be the exactly at the end of a rental period.  Now a landlord just needs to give the tenant a full 2 month notice along with 2 days for the tenant to receive the notice if it is being delivered by post.  As I mentioned the other things that a landlord needs to have done are:

  • Have given the tenant a how to rent booklet
  • Have presented the tenant with a valid EPC
  • Given the tenant the prescribed information regarding how their tenancy deposit is held (if one is taken)
  • Protect the deposit with one of the approved Tenancy Deposit Schemes
  • If required have a Gas Safety Certificate (CP12)

How do I download a free Section 21 Notice?

It is really easy to download a free Section 21 Notice using Property Hawks free Property Managers software.  The good thing is that by signing up for the service you automatically enter in the information that you will need to complete your Free Section 21 Notice.  Once you have selected the correct version of the Section 21 Notice you need then all you have to do is download it as a printable PDF which can be printed and then sent or given to the tenant.

What does a Section 21 Notice look like?

This is an example of what the free Section 21 Notice 6(a) available through the Property Manager looks like:

1. To: sam white (Tenant)

2. You are required to leave the below address after ........................................... (1) If you do not leave, your landlord may apply to the court for an order under section 21(1) or (4) of the Housing Act 1988 requiring you to give up possession.

1, building, Nottingham, ng2 (Rental property)

3. If you have a fixed term AST, this notice is only valid for six months from the date of issue. If you have a rolling or periodic tenancy, e.g. you rent the property on a week by week or month by month basis, this notice is only valid for four months from the date of issue.

(1) Landlords should insert a calendar date here. The date should allow for the service period, and in effect be two months plus two days if the notice is served by post, e.g. where a notice is posted first class on 15 December 2015, the earliest a tenant may be required to give up possession is after 17 February 2016. Where landlords are seeking an order of possession on a statutory periodic tenancy under section 21(4) of the Housing Act 1988, the notice period should also not be shorter than the period of the tenancy (up to a maximum of six months), e.g. where there is a quarterly periodic tenancy, the date should be three months from the date of service.

4. Name and address of landlord

To be signed and dated by the landlord or their agent (someone acting for them). If there are joint landlords each landlord or the agent must sign unless one signs on the behalf of the rest with their agreement.

Signed ..................................................................

..................................................................

.................................................................. Please specify whether: landlord [..]

Name(s) of signatory/signatories test man

Address(es) of signatory/signatories 5, Nottingham, ng2 5he

Telephone of signatory/signatories

As you can see most of the fields such as tenant name, rental property address are filled in automatically through the software leaving just the date possession is required by and the landlords signature to be put in by hand.

When is a Section 21 Notice valid?

A landlord needs a signed Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (AST). If a landlord renewed or issued the tenancy agreement after the 6th April 2007 any tenancy deposit taken must have been protected under one of the approved Tenancy Deposit Schemes and the tenant notified where the deposit held prior to the Section 21 Notice being served. If a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) or a selective licensing area then the landlord must have a landlord licence. 

Since October the 1st 2015 the government has restricted the use of Section 21 Notices for new tenancies to only being able to be used 4 months after a tenancy has begun.  Also, for most tenancies a Section 21 Notice remains valid for 6 months from the date of service.

If you are unable to use a Section 21, see the Section 8 Notice for possession. We also provide users with a free Section 8 Notice form.

When a landlord CANNOT use a Section 21 Notice

There are certain circumstances in which the law says that a landlord cannot seek possession
against their tenant using section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, in which case a landlord should
not use this form. These are:

(a) during the first four months of the tenancy (but where the tenancy is a
replacement tenancy, the four month period is calculated by reference to the
start of the original tenancy and not the start of the replacement tenancy –
see section 21(4B) of the Housing Act 1988);
(b) where a property requires a licence but is unlicensed;
(c)where the landlord has not provided the tenant with an energy performance
certificate, gas safety certificate or the Department for Communities and
Local Government’s publication “How to rent: the checklist for renting in
England” (see the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed
Requirements (England) Regulations 2015);
(d)where the landlord has not complied with the tenancy deposit protection
legislation; or
(e) where the landlord is prevented from retaliatory eviction under section 33 of
the Deregulation Act 2015.

Section 21 Notice & retaliatory or revenge evictions

Retalitory or revenge evictions as it sometimes is known is where a landlord is perceived to have attempted to evict the tenant because they have complained about the condition of their rental property.

The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced new rules for assured shorthold tenancies where a tenant has complained about the repair of their tenanted property and the rights and procedure for a landlord obtaining possession through the use of a Section 21 Notice.  To see the full Department for Communities and Local Government Retaliatory Eviction Guidance . In summary what this Guidance says is that a court can refuse to grant a possession order following the issuing of a Section 21 Notice if all these apply:

  • the tenant complained to the landlord or letting agent in writing (by letter or email)
  • you the landlord issued a section 21 notice after the tenant complained about the condition of the rental property
  • the tenant complained to the Council because the landlord didn't take steps to fix the property
  • the Council sent the landlord an Improvement Notice
     

Professional landlord insurance rates from Alan Boswell Group 

What notice period do I need to give my tenants?

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 requires that the landlord provides tenants of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) with a minimum of two months' notice in writing that he/she wants possession of the property.  Extra days (3) should be added if the notice is to be sent by post as the two months starts when the tenant receives the notice. (See the section below on serving the Section 21 Notice).

Section 21 of the Housing Act actually states:

21. Recovery of possession on expiry or termination of assured shorthold tenancy.

(1)Without prejudice to any right of the landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy to recover possession of the dwelling-house let on the tenancy in accordance with Chapter I above, on or after the coming to an end of an assured shorthold tenancy which was a fixed term tenancy, a court shall make an order for possession of the dwelling-house if it is satisfied—

(a)that the assured shorthold tenancy has come to an end and no further assured tenancy (whether shorthold or not) is for the time being in existence, other than [F1an assured shorthold periodic tenancy (whether statutory or not)]; and

(b)the landlord or, in the case of joint landlords, at least one of them has given to the tenant not less than two months’ notice [F2in writing] stating that he requires possession of the dwelling-house.

The notice must be served before possession action can be started.  In the case of joint landlords the notice can be given by any one of them. 

Serving the Section 21 Notice

For tenancies starting after the 1st October 2015 a landlord just needs to give 2 months notice to the tenant using the prescribed Section 21 Notice 6 (a).  For tenancies created before this date the following applies:

If the tenancy is still in it’s fixed term then a landlord needs to use the s21(1).  This also applies if there is no mention in the tenancy agreement of what happens at the the end of the fixed term (the tenancy automatically becomes a statutory periodic tenancy).  However, if the tenancy agreement stipulates that the tenancy becomes a contractural rather than statutory periodic tenancy then a landlord will need to use the section 21 (4) notice.  This is the case if the section 21 notice was contractual at the outset.

With regards to notice with the section 21(1) the period has to be just two months.  In the case of the section 21 (4) the tenancy has to be at least two months  and at the end of a tenancy period.

If the tenancy was for a fixed term, the date specified cannot be any earlier than the expiry date of that fixed term. For example a six month tenancy commencing on 1st May, ending 31st October will seek possession after 31st October providing there is a full 2 months notice given (allowing 3 days for postage if the notice is being posted).

If this notice is given within the fixed term but the full 2 month period runs outside the fixed term a landlord just needs to give a full 2 months notice. It is always a good idea to give a notice date AFTER which possession is sought but technically this is not necessary. 


For those tenancies that started as contractual periodic or became so at the expiry of the fixed term because the tenancy agreement stipulated so the notice is given, the date specified must be the last day of a rental period.  Therefore if the tenancy is a monthly tenancy and the rental day is the 15th of the month, the date specified must be the 14th of a subsequent month at least 2 months after the date of service.

This is the vital bit and one which many landlords get wrong resulting in them having to serve the Section 21 Notice again. In fact the Chairman of the London Association of District Judges recently commented that 7 out of 10 of Section 21 Notices are being thrown out of court because they are wrong.

Remember landlords need to give a minimum of 2 months notice and this should allow 3 days for the tenant to receive the notice by post if the Section 21 Notice is posted.

When it comes to comes to Notices month means Calendar Month in tenancy agreements (Law of Property Act 1925 s61 (a). Tenancy agreements run from a day in one month to the day (date) before in another month. For example, a six month tenancy signed on the 5th March (5th day of March) will end on the 4th day of September, AFTER which day a landlord will seek possession. 

Will I get my rent back and any money owed if successful?

The Section 21 Process is a claim for possession only. If the tenant is in rent arrears or has caused damage to your rental property you are still entitled to sue the tenants, but you will have to take a separate course of action, read this to find out how a landlord can get back money owed by a tenant.

How should I serve a Section 21 Notice?

A landlord is always advised to check their tenancy agreement as this should provide guidance on what is acceptable service of the notice. If there is no term like this in the agreement then they have to serve under s196 Law of Property Act 1925 which only allows for hand delivery or registered post (which we interpret to be recorded) if sent first class (without provision for it in the tenancy agreement) then it is not deemed served.

Generally a Section 21 Notice may be served by post or in person.   The courts will recognise the day of postal service as the day on which the letter would normally have arrived.  Sending the Section 21 Notice by mail is an acceptable method. A landlord should allow 3 working days for delivery and use recorded delivery or proof of postage. This means the Post Office will give receipt of postage and the address to which it is sent. Recorded delivery can cause problems if the tenant refuses to sign and the Section 21 Notice is returned and therefore it's not advised.

Therefore the ideal method of service is by hand directly to your tenant; alternatively the notice can be served at the property through the letter box. In both cases the landlord should have a witness who completes a witness form confirming this. The burden of proof that the Section 21 Notice was served falls upon the landlord and direct service by the landlord is always preferable. Read more on the best ways to serve notices.

More Section 21 Notice guidance

Possession Section 21 Notice

New Section 21 Notice For 2015

Section 21 Notice Versus Section 8 Notices

FREE Section 21 Notice

Need to ask a question about Section 21 Notices? SIGN UP for our landlordforum

Need expert LEGAL ADVICE? Landlord Services

The information, materials and opinions contained on this website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute specific legal or other professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. Seatons Solicitors does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this website.

 

 

Professional landlord insurance rates from Alan Boswell Group

 

 

 

 



Comments (11)

section 21 b
I issued a sec 21 b to tenants. They are via a council scheme called housing options. The tenants had a 6 mnt agreement on a bond scheme and this ran out on 1st october. We do not want to renew agreement as tenants are causing noise problems in neighbourhood. The Bond from council runs out 1st oct, I issued sec 21 b 7.9.12 asking for tenant to vacate property by 8.1.12. I thought this was the required 60 days and a little more. However, the housing options are saying out dates are wrong. pls advise. Many Thanks Kully
#1 - Kully - 10/04/2012 - 18:31
Serving a Section 21 (a) b
Does a section 21 (A) b need to be signed if issued by a private landlord. It was dated but not signed by me personally. The tenant is suggesting that it needs to be signed.
#2 - esther Hutchinson - 10/22/2012 - 16:56
s21
2s1 dated 20.8.2012 DATE OF EXPIRY 4.11.2012 BUT I HAND DELIVERED S21 ON THE 31.8.2012 IS IT STILL OK
#3 - michael - 01/03/2013 - 19:33
section 21
My landlord given me 2 months notice under sec21 (1) requires possession.
I gave him counter serve notice as I want to leave 2 weeks earlier. He doesn't want to agree. Does he have a right to refuse?
#4 - ana - 05/13/2013 - 23:30
S 21 Notice
I was sent an accelerated procedure claim form. My landlord says that he served me a S21N BUT in fact, he and his wife are divorcing and one says one thing another says something else. I have never received any notice in writing, although the landlord told me informally that he wanted the flat back because his wife wanted to live in that flat. He asked me when I could leave. I asked, can I stay up to Christmas? He said, no. So I asked to stay up to my children's school break, he said ok. Then I started to look for property. Then, his wife came along and told me that she did not want to live in that flat and in fact she was going to India and that I could stay in the flat as I am a good tenant, etc. I relieved as I like the flat. About 3 weeks ago the landlord come along and asked me when I was leaving. Surprised, I told him about what his wife said and told him that as soon as I find somewhere suitable for me and my children and would let him know and asked him to send me a letter given me notice. Next, now I received the claim form. How can I prove that I was not given S21 Notice?
Thanks
#5 - REGINA - 08/16/2013 - 10:15
Section 21
My landlord given me 2 months notice under sec21 (1) requires possession.
I gave him counter serve notice as I want to leave 1 month earlier. He doesn't want to agree. Does he have a right to refuse?
#6 - Stephan - 12/12/2013 - 11:48
Section 21 Dates
I was issued with a section 21 while my deposit nad not been protected.It was dated the 11th. I have since been returned ny deposit and issued another section 21 dated 18th. The section 21 has now gone to court and i have recieved all the information. They have however used the sec 21 dated the 11th and not the one that i have recently been sent, dated the 18th. What happens now, Thanks
#7 - James Tanner - 02/06/2014 - 12:52
notice to end tenancy
My landlord gave me 7 weeks notice tha he will not be renewing the tenancy agreemnt(6 months i've been on)but i have asked that he gives me atleast 3 months extension and that he can even increase the rent as i'm currently out of the country and not in position to look for alternative accomodation but he insists that i move.what can i do in this case?
#8 - charlie - 11/07/2014 - 17:40
SECTION 21
Hi do i need to automatically serve a section 21 notice if the tenancy is due to end and i want my property back?
#9 - Gary Maslin - 12/05/2014 - 10:36
Section 21 notice
I wish to serve a section 21 to my tenant. The tenancy is currently periodic but during the fixed term the rent due date was adjusted by mutual agreement to facilitate the tenants change of employment. My question is ' what date should I use on the section 21'. The fixed tenancy commenced on the 25 Nov 2011 and tha rent due date was changed from the 25th to the 1st of the month and still remains at the 1st.
Many thanks.
#10 - Tony - 08/17/2015 - 13:47
Tenant vacated a room rental/left key
Rent was late and I had contacted the tenant on the 2nd. Tenant replied after 5mins saying that the standing order should have paid rent several days before (previous rent has been paid several days before it was due). I heard nothing from the tenant. I messaged a 2 days later saying that I still had not received rent (several ways) and heard nothing.

This tenant is in a shared accommodation ie I rent the rooms out individually. I went over to the flat recently as their was a fault that needed fixing and had noticed the tenants door was open because they had left the window open. I noticed that most of the tenants belongings had be moved out and the key had been left behind. That day the tenant had messaged their fellow flat mate saying that they'd moved out and sorry for not saying goodbye but good luck.

I'm stuck in that I don't have to go through the eviction process because the tenant has vacated. But have read so much about not being able to change locks and re-let because technically the tenancy agreement still stands. If I issue a section 21 (1) b then I'm not able to go the CCJ route to claim arrears.

I've asked the tenant to confirm that they indeed want to terminate. In the message I mentioned how I was confused because our last correspondence the tenant had stated that rent had been paid.

Where do I stand legally?
#11 - Michelle - 04/07/2016 - 20:05
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We’ve all had it - the phone goes, it’s one of your tenants’.  Do you:...
Better The Devil You Know?   I've recently advertised my rental property follo...
I was contacted this week by a fraught landlord who was the subject to a negligence claim from their t...
The buy-to-let mortgage market has gone from bust to boom again over the last few years.  With le...
This is a regular discussion point amongst many landlords.  Those that have been dissatisfied wit...
It's a landlords’ dread!   A nice respectable looking tenant, with a good...
Rebecca Brough of Fidler and Pepper Solicitors asks whether landlords need a tenant guarantor, and exp...
The thing with managing a portfolio of buy-to-let property is that for much of the time you don't have...
Brings Threats and Opportunities Many landlords are adopting a wait and see approach to the G...
Severe rental arrears fell by almost 16 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012 according to data from ...
Should a landlord let their tenants smoke? Landlords are acutely aware of the bad smells and ...
New Year celebrations are well and truly over, so it’s back to work, and for many landlords, sma...
I was thinking today, what would be the top 5 things I would wish for next year as a landlord.  S...
You may think that as a landlord you are not liable for your tenants’ water bill. Well up until ...
I can't begin to explain how fraught the last few weeks have been.  Most part time landlords will...
The buy-to-let mortgage market has been in the doldrums for several years after the ‘crash&rsquo...
Rebecca Brough of Fidler and Pepper explores the world of fees and charges in respect to a landlords ...
Don’t forget your section 213 notice! Property Hawk has been urging landlord not to forget about...
You are just about to let your buy-to-let.  So what are the essential bits of paper work that you...
Is there such as thing as the ‘fair wear and tear’ of your buy-to-let property? ...
Landlords looking to obtain possession have two basic choices when trying to get their buy-to-let prop...
So it all goes wrong!  The tenant moves out (disappears) and owes you months of rent.  They ...
We recently had a enquiry on the Landlord Forum asking whether it was a good idea to serve a section 2...
Landlords seeking possession frequently have to decide between the merits of using a Section 21 notice...
Renewing a tenancy is one of the most straightforward aspects of managing a tenancy.  But many la...
Getting possession of a rental property when your tenant falls into rent arrears Th...
I read recently on a landlord forum a suggestion from one disgruntled tenant that landlords should be ...
My latest round of tenant gripes has hit me after a relatively quiet period. I suppose it was...
After launching the new version of the property management software we felt the actual site pages look...
Rental yields have always been a critical metric when evaluating a buy-to-let investment and they are...
Any landlord who follows London politics will not have escaped the fact that the private rented sector...
I was chatting this week to my joiner Steve. He was having a nightmare! Steve had done most o...
The Co-op announced last week that it was stepping up lending into the buy-to-let mortgage market by a...
Legislation should be in place by the end of the year to allow landlords to benefit from the Green Dea...
It's January which means only one thing for most landlords, yes it’s time to get to grips with t...
As the year comes to an end many landlords will be drawing up their plans for 2012. With the ...
I was contacted several weeks ago by one of our longstanding users. Kevin wrote to highlight ...
I'm like the majority of small landlords in that I have opted to use the Deposit Protection Scheme (DP...
Europe is at it again! Not content with their crazy project “Euro”  putting ...
You might be aware that I’ve had a number of new tenants recently. This has i...
It’s a great time to be a landlord. Many of us including me are making record rental pr...
I was contacted last week by a landlord looking to gain access to their bu...
I’ve written before about landlords not needing to use a letting agent. We al...
It's been a while since I've had a new tenant move in. The new tenant seems amiable enough. A middle a...
My landlord insurance fell due at the beginning of this month. DAMMM! Yet again the dilemma. ...
It is possible to get a company to fill out your N5B.  This will cost anything upwards of £...
Most landlords use an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement to let their property. So how long ...
I've been looking at some recent enquiries from landlords who use our Property Management software to ...
Most landlords who let a property that is tenanted will not be liable for council tax.  This is b...