Currently, a landlord may terminate an assured shorthold tenancy agreement and obtain possession of a property by serving a Section 21 Notice on the tenants. 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 use the Section 21 method.
Section 21 at a glance
Checklist to see if Section 21 Notice is valid
Landlords can only use Section 21 Notice in certain circumstances. This is a handy detailed checklist to see whether a Section 21 Notice can be validly given:
- The Section 21 Notice must be served at least four months after the original tenancy began.
- At least two months’ notice must be given.
- 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.
Assuming that the landlord complies with the list above, the notice is likely to be valid.
After the landlord gives notice, they should keep a record of how they served the notice. 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.
Can Landlords rectify mistakes and serve a valid Section 21 Notice?
If the landlord didn’t provide the Gas Safety Certificate, EPC and an up-to-date How to Rent checklist before the tenant moved into the property, they can rectify this. 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 Notice: Form 6A
It’s important to use the prescribed form for the Section 21 Notice, and fill it out correctly, giving the correct notice. 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.
The future of Section 21: Renters Reform Bill
The Renters Reform Bill was finally published on 17 May 2023, and contained the 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.
Watch this space – I will keep this article updated.
Last updated: 21 May 2023
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