What is Section 21?
Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 is a legal provision that enables landlords to evict tenants from an assured shorthold tenancy. This can be done either after the fixed-term tenancy has ended or during a tenancy with no fixed end date, commonly known as a 'periodic' tenancy. It is crucial to note that a Section 21 notice is not an eviction order but a notice seeking possession, which means it is the first step in the legal process to regain your property.
Preconditions for issuing a Section 21 notice
Before issuing a Section 21 notice, landlords must ensure they meet specific criteria. Failure to do so could render the notice invalid. These conditions include:
- The tenancy must be at least four months old.
- The property must not be categorised as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) without a council licence.
- The tenant's deposit must be placed in a deposit protection scheme if the tenancy started after April 2007.
- Landlords must have provided tenants with copies of the property's Energy Performance Certificate, the government's 'How to Rent' guide, and a current gas safety certificate if gas is installed in the property.
The process of issuing a Section 21 notice
In England, landlords should use Form 6a if the tenancy started or was renewed after 30 September 2015. The notice must give tenants at least two months to vacate the property. However, if you have a 'contractual' periodic tenancy, you may need to give a longer notice period, equivalent to the rental period if it exceeds two months.
What if the tenant ignores the notice?
If a tenant ignores the Section 21 notice and does not vacate the property by the specified date, landlords have the option to apply for an accelerated possession order. This is a quicker route to eviction that does not usually require a court hearing. However, keeping proof that you served the Section 21 notice to your tenants is essential. This can be done by filling in the certification of service form (N215) or writing "served by [your name] on [the date]" on the notice.
Applying for an accelerated possession order is a straightforward process but must be done meticulously. You will need to use your completed N215 or notice as evidence. If the court grants the order and the tenant still refuses to leave, you can apply for a warrant for possession, which would involve bailiffs legally removing the tenant from the property.
Before resorting to legal avenues, you should attempt to resolve any disputes amicably with your tenant. For instance, if the issue is rent arrears, you could agree on a rent repayment plan. Alternatively, you could use a Section 8 notice if the tenant has violated the terms of the tenancy agreement. While this usually involves a more complicated legal process, you can serve a Section 8 notice before the end of a tenancy period, so this may be a more suitable option in some cases.
Finding assistance to a tenant ignoring a Section 21
Ignoring a Section 21 notice can have serious legal implications for tenants and can be a stressful situation for landlords. However, by seeking expert help from AST Assistance, you can be sure that you follow the correct legal procedures and find the most effective recourse.
To understand how we can help you in this situation or in managing your property portfolio generally, contact our friendly team by calling 01706 619954 or filling out our contact form.