Landlords guide to the Section 21 notice
Are you up to date on the latest guidelines about serving a section 21 notice to your tenants? As a landlord, there are many requirements and pieces of legislation for you to be aware of, and in this guide, we’re providing an overview of the section 21 notice.
Are you up to date on the latest guidelines about serving a Section 21 notice to your tenants? As a landlord, there are many requirements and pieces of legislation for you to be aware of. In this guide, we provide an overview of the Section 21 notice, with support from the British Landlord Association.
What is a Section 21 notice?
As a landlord, you have a tenancy agreement with the occupier of your property. The property you legally own becomes their home, and both parties have rights and responsibilities. As the property owner, there may come a time when you wish to take back possession of the property, and this is where a Section 21 notice comes in.
A Section 21 notice, or notice of possession, is the legal process of informing your tenants that you wish to recover full possession of the property that they live in. A Section 21 notice is sometimes also referred to as a ‘Notice to quit’.
As a landlord, serving a Section 21 notice allows you to automatically regain full possession of your property without having to state any grounds or give any reasons.
When can you serve a Section 21 notice to a tenant?
You can serve a Section 21 notice to a tenant after their fixed-term tenancy agreement ends. You can also serve a Section 21 notice to a tenant who has a ‘Periodic’ tenancy that has no fixed end date.
There are some conditions when you are not able to serve a Section 21 notice, and these are as follows:
- It is less than 4 months since the start of the tenancy.
- The fixed term has not ended.
- The property is classified as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and does not have the appropriate license from the council.
- The tenancy began after April 2007, and you have not put the tenants’ deposit in a deposit protection scheme.
- The tenancy started after October 2015, and you have not used form 6a (England) or a letter with all the same information on it.
- The council has served an improvement notice on your property in the last 6 months.
- The council has served a notice in the last 6 months that says it will do emergency works on the property.
- You have not repaid any unlawful fees or deposits that you charged the tenant.
It is essential to ensure that you are serving the correct notice to your tenants. If your tenants have broken the terms of your tenancy agreement, then you should not use a Section 21 notice, and you should serve a Section 8 notice. If you are unsure which notice you should serve, then you must seek professional legal advice.
Serving a Section 21 notice to a tenant
If you wish to serve a Section 21 notice to your tenant, then there are specific guidelines on how this should be done.
- Give them the correct notice period
- Issue a Section 21 notice form
To be able to serve a Section 21 notice to your tenant, you must also have given them a copy of the property’s energy performance certificate, there must be a current gas safety record for the property, and you should also provide your tenants with a copy of the governments’ How to Rent guide.
When it comes to giving notice, the standard notice period is 2 months. In Wales, this notice period can be different if you have what is known as a ‘contractual’ periodic tenancy. This is when you have a fixed-term tenancy agreement with your tenant that has ended, but there is a clause included to continue the tenancy as a periodic tenancy. In this case, the notice period must be as long as the rental period, so if your tenant pays you rent every 3 months then you must give them 3 months’ notice. This is not applicable in England.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, amendments were made to the amount of notice that needed to be given due to The Coronovirus Act 2020. If you gave your tenants, notice between 1st June 2021 and 30th September 2021, then you are required to have given them a notice period of 4 months. Currently, the notice period has reverted back to the pre-pandemic period of 2 months.
For the most up-to-date information, you can check the Gov.UK website.
How to serve a Section 21 notice
When serving a Section 21 notice to a tenant, you should hand this to them in person. If they do not answer the door, you may post the notice through the letterbox before 5 pm. If you do this, it is important that you take a witness with you.
If you are unable to hand the notice to the tenant directly and post it through the letterbox, the notice will have been deemed to have been served on the following day.
It is important to keep proof that you gave notice to your tenants by filling in a certification of service form (N215) and write “Served by [your name] on [the date]” on the notice.
If you are not able to visit the tenants or property in person with a witness, you can use a professional process server.
Is there a standard Section 21 notice form template?
There is a standard Section 21 notice template, and there are 2 different options depending on the type of tenancy agreement that you have.
In England, If your tenancy agreement was started or renewed after 30th September 2015, you must include specific information in your Section 21 notice called prescribed information. You can use form 6a if your tenancy agreement started or was renewed after 30th September 2015.
In Wales, you can write your own Section 21 notice. If it’s a periodic tenancy, you must explain that you’re giving notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988
For more information, check the Gov.UK website.
How to calculate Section 21 notice dates
If you are serving a Section 21 notice to your tenants on a fixed-term tenancy agreement, you must always give tenants at least two months’ notice to leave your property.
If you and your tenants have a periodic tenancy agreement, in Wales, you must let your tenants stay in the property for any additional time covered by their final rent payment. If the tenancy agreement runs on a weekly basis then there must be a notice period of eight weeks.
Due to The Coronavirus Act 2020, between 26th March 2020 and 30th September 2021, there were special rules in place, and the notice period was extended to between 3 and 6 months. Currently, the notice period is 2 months in England and 6 months in Wales.
Section 21 notice tenants rights
Even if you serve your tenants with a Section 21 notice, they still have rights, and they can also challenge an eviction. Having been served, tenants do not have to leave immediately, and it is illegal for landlords or their agents to harass tenants or force them to leave.
During the notice period, tenants can still log and request repairs and maintenance to be done and must allow you reasonable access to carry out this work.
If you have served your tenants with a Section 21 notice and they owe you rent, or you start court action against them, they still have rights.
As you can see, there are a lot of considerations when it comes to preparing for and serving a Section 21 notice. It is always recommended that you seek professional legal advice on any matter regarding your tenancy agreement with your tenants and be sure to check the applicable notice period for the appropriate country (England or Wales).
How long is a Section 21 notice valid for?
A Section 21 notice is valid for 12 months.