Mar 13

Section 21 Notice

A Section 21 notice is one of the most common pieces of legislation you are likely to encounter in the course of letting out property. It is important to be fully aware of what a Section 21 notice is and when it can be used to end a tenancy agreement.

What is a Section 21 notice?

A Section 21 notice is defined under the Housing Act 1988 and is the notice that a landlord should serve a tenant with at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy to regain possession of their property.
As the owner of the property you have the right to regain possession once the fixed period of the tenancy comes to an end, but it is important this is done in the correct and legal manner.

When can a Section 21 notice be used?

A Section 21 notice can only be used when looking to serve notice at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy and cannot, for example, be used at the end of a company let as this is an unregulated tenancy. Alternative procedures will be available for different tenancy agreements.

The Housing Act 1988 requires landlords to provide their tenants with a minimum of two months notice that they wish to regain possession at the end of the fixed period of the tenancy. The Section 21 notice to quit can be served on your tenants at any point during the fixed period of the tenancy but you will not be able to regain possession of the property until the fixed term has come to an end. If you are seeking to regain possession of the property during the fixed term of the tenancy, then a Section 8 notice to quit should be used and you will need to prove that certain conditions can be met for this to be accepted in court. Section 21 notices can also be served to tenants on a periodic tenancy, but they must also be provided with two months notice and this should end on the last date of the period.

A Section 21 notice is also only able to be used providing you have complied with the legislation surrounding tenancy deposits. To do so you will need to have protected the deposit within the allowed time period and should also have provided the tenants with the appropriate prescribed information regarding this. If this has not been done then you will be unable to serve a Section 21 notice to the tenants.

How should the notice be served to the tenants?

One of the biggest reasons that possession claims are dismissed in court are because the Section 21 notice that has been served to the tenants has not been drafted correctly. It is possible to find example notices and completion instructions through a landlord’s association or solicitor who should be able to advise on the process that should take place.
The notice to the tenant must be served in writing and it is always recommended that this is sent to the tenant via recorded delivery. This ensures that should the eviction process become complicated, you will hold proof that the tenant was correctly served the notice.

If the tenant does not leave by the expiry date on the notice the landlord will need to go to court to seek a possession order. Providing the notice has been correctly served the court will have no reason not to grant this.

Should the eviction of your tenant become complicated it is always recommended that you seek a solicitor’s advice. They will be best placed to advise you on any further proceedings to follow for this. Likewise if you need to seek possession during the fixed term of the tenancy a Section 8 notice to quit is the appropriate notice to serve the tenants, you will need to provide supporting evidence for your claim to regain possession early. This is typically used in instances were tenants have broken the tenancy agreement or are in rent arrears.

Written by Sarah Male from Urban Sales and Lettings

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