Currently, a landlord may terminate a tenancy agreement and obtain possession of a property by serving on the tenants a notice under Section 21 Housing Act 1988. The Section 21 Notice itself is called Form 6A.
It’s often called a “no fault” eviction notice, as the landlord doesn’t need to give a reason for terminating the tenancy.
It’s by far the most common way to evict tenants in England. Government figures estimate that 2/3 of evictions currently use the Section 21 method.
Section 21 Notices at a glance
- Checklist to see if Section 21 Notice is valid
- Can Landlords fix mistakes and serve a valid Section 21 Notice?
- Free Template for Section 21 Eviction Notice: Form 6A
- How long is a Section 21 Notice / Form 6A valid for after service?
- How can a landlord serve a Section 21 Notice on tenants?
- What happens if tenants don’t move out after Section 21 Notice expires?
- The future of Section 21: Renters Reform Bill
- Can landlords still use Section 21 to evict tenants?
Checklist to see if Section 21 Notice is valid
Landlords can only use the Section 21 Eviction Notice using Form 6A in certain circumstances.
This is a detailed checklist to see whether a Section 21 Eviction Notice can be validly given to evict tenants, and to serve Form 6A correctly on the tenants:
- The notice must be served at least four months after the original tenancy began.
- At least two months’ notice must be given.
- Each tenant must receive their own copy of the notice.
- The notice cannot expire during the fixed term period of the tenancy, unless there is a break clause that allows this.
- The prescribed form of notice, Form 6A, must be used and filled out correctly.
- The landlord must have placed the tenant’s deposit in a deposit protection scheme and have provide the prescribed information to the tenant within 30 days. Click here for full details of the prescribed information. See below if this was not done.
- The landlord should have provided the tenant with a valid Gas Safety Certificate, EPC and an up-to-date How to Rent checklist before the tenant moved into the property. This can be rectified (see below).
- The landlord must give the tenants a copy of any replacement Gas Safety Certificate and EPC, once the originals have expired.
- If the tenant enters into a new fixed term or if a fixed term becomes a periodic tenancy, the landlord should give them the latest How to Rent Checklist if it has changed since they moved in.
- If property is an HMO, it must have a valid licence.
- The local council must not have served an improvement notice or a notice of emergency works on the property in the last 6 months.
- It must not be a “revenge” or “retaliatory” notice after a tenant complains about their housing conditions, the landlord doesn’t properly deal with the complaint within 14 days, the tenant escalates it to the council, and the council issues an improvement or emergency works notice>
Assuming that the landlord complies with the list above, the notice is likely to be valid, and can be used to evict tenants in possession proceedings.
After the landlord gives notice, they should keep a record of how they served Form 6A. An easy way of doing this is by filling in the certification of service form (N215). If the tenants don’t leave by the date specified on the notice, the landlord can use the completed N215 or notice to apply for an accelerated possession order.
If the tenants don’t move out at the end of the notice, the landlord will need to start possession proceedings within 4 months (ie 6 months from the date the notice is served on the tenants).
Can Landlords fix mistakes and serve a valid Section 21 Notice?
The Court of Appeal held in Trecarrell v Rouncefield in 2020 that a landlord can still serve a valid Section 21 Notice, so long as they provide valid up-to-date documents to the tenant before or with the Section 21 Notice. See para 37 of the judgment for more details.
The situation is more complicated with the deposit. If the landlord didn’t register the deposit in a deposit protection scheme and provide the prescribed notice within 30 days, the only way they can serve a valid Section 21 Notice is by giving back the deposit to the renter before serving the notice. Then they can serve a valid Section 21 Notice.
Free Template for Section 21 Eviction Notice: Form 6A
It’s important to use the prescribed form (Form 6A) for the Section 21 Notice, and fill it out correctly, giving the correct notice period of at least two months. There’s no need to pay for a template Section 21 notice. The template for Form 6A is available free of charge on the government website – click here for Form 6A.
The notice period to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy agreement is a minimum of two months. Unlike Section 8, the landlord doesn’t need to give a reason or prove that eviction is reasonable.
How long is a Section 21 Notice / Form 6A valid for after service?
Once a landlord serves the statutory minimum of two months’ notice on the tenants using Form 6A, a landlord has six months to start possession proceedings.
This means that Form 6A will be valid for six months after serving it on the tenants. If the landlord doesn’t start possession proceedings within six months of servicing the Section 21 Notice, they’ll have to start again and serve another Form 6A.
How can a landlord serve a Section 21 Notice on tenants?
Here’s a guide to the different ways landlords can serve a Section 21 notice on tenants. Remember that each tenant must receive their own copy. Do allow plenty of time, and it’s important to keep evidence of serving the notice for use in court, if need be.
Tips for serving a Section 21 notice in person
For serving the notice in person, it’s best to go with a witness, and take a photo of the envelope being posted through the letter box of the property.
If the tenant isn’t at the property or refuses to acknowledge receipt, complete a certificate of service (N215) form saying how you served the notice in person.
If the notice is delivered the address on a business day before 4.30pm, it will be considered as served that day. If it’s delivered after 4.30pm, it will be deemed to be delivered on the following business day. This means if you serve Form 6A in person on Friday at 5:30pm, it won’t be considered as served until the following Monday, assuming that’s not a bank holiday!
Serving a Section 21 notice by post
If serving Form 6A by first class post, try avoid any dispute as to whether or when it was sent. A simple way is to ask for proof of posting from the Post Office. Also, take a photo of you (or someone else) handing over the envelope at the Post Office.
The law deems the notice to be served the second day after it was posted, provided it was posted on a business day. If the second day is not a business day, it will be the next business day. For instance, if the landlord posts the notice on a Friday, two days later would be a Sunday. However, as Sunday isn’t a working day, service will be deemed to take place on the Monday.
Can a landlord serve a Section 21 Notice by email?
Provided the assured shorthold tenancy allows it, a landlord may serve Form 6A by email.
However, it’s really important to check the tenancy agreement to see if it’s permitted. Although OpenRent’s standard agreement contains a clause agreeing to receive notices by email, the NRLA one does not.
Given the importance of being able to prove delivery, I personally would not rely on email as it’s easier to prove one of the other methods. I would, however, use email in addition to another “hard copy” method.
What happens if tenants don’t move out after Section 21 Notice expires?
If the tenants don’t move out by the end of the two month notice period in Form 6A, the landlord will need to start possession proceedings at the County Court for an outright order for possession. The landlord can apply as soon as the 2 month notice period ends, and must do so within 4 months of the end date of the notice.
The judge must give possession of the property back to the landlord if the Section 21 notice is valid. The outright possession order given by the judge will give a ‘date for possession’, which is usually two weeks later.
If the tenants are still in the property on the date for possession, the landlord will need to obtain a warrant for possession (Form N325) to have them evicted. The landlord needs to send the form to the same County Court that heard the possession claim.
The final stage is repossession, or enforcing the order, by appointing court bailiffs. This is the only way that landlords can legally require tenants to leave.
The future of Section 21: Renters Reform Bill
The Renters Reform Bill contains wording that would not only abolish Section 21, but it would also end fixed term tenancies.
Once it comes into effect (click here for the estimated timescales), landlords will only be able to terminate tenancy agreements using Section 8 Grounds for Possession. The Renters Reform Bill significantly amends the Section 8 Grounds for Possession. Click here for tables that show the consolidated s8 mandatory and discretionary grounds.
Based on information currently available, you can find out more here about the likely practical impact on landlords of abolishing Section 21. Finally, here’s a blog post on how to prepare for the Renters Reform Bill.
Can landlords still use Section 21 to evict tenants?
Yes, landlords can still use Section 21 to terminate tenancies and evict tenants. However, they must serve a valid Section 21 Notice. Most of the administrative requirements can also be rectified, as explained above.
Based on current estimates (click here for the detail), landlords are likely to be able to keep using Section 21 to terminate tenancies and evict tenants until the end of 2025, if not 2026.
Watch this space – I will keep this article updated.
Last updated: 17 September 2023
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