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What does a Section 21 Notice mean?

A Section 21 Notice named after Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, is the notice a landlord can give to a tenant to regain possession of a property at the end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). However, the landlord is also able to issue the tenant with a Section 21 notice without giving any reason for ending the tenancy agreement if the tenancy is during the "periodic" phase.

A landlord has the legal right to retain possession at the end of a tenancy but must follow the correct legal procedure, which includes serving a section 21 notice. The Housing Act 1996 amended the section 21 of the 1988 Act by requiring this notice to be given in writing.

A Section 21 notice has two different subsections

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 is divided into subsections with different procedures to be followed depending on whether the Section 21 notice is served before the fixed term has come to an end or after, when the tenancy has become a periodic tenancy.

Notice under this subsection can be served on a tenant at any time during the fixed term of the tenancy (but not before the fixed term begins) provided that the tenant receives a minimum of two months' notice. This is the case even if the two months notice ends after the tenancy agreement has expired. For example, if notice requiring possession is served on the last day of the tenancy agreement, the tenant does not have to give up possession of the dwelling-house until at least two months after the date that the notice was served.

A Section 21 notice must be served

A Section 21 notice must be served before possession order will be issued by a court under this section (Possession orders can be given for other notices). Possession under this section of the Housing Act 1988 cannot take place during the fixed term of the tenancy, but the notice can be served at any time during the fixed term provided the tenant is given a minimum of two months' notice.

What happens if a tenant does not leave before the expiry of a Section 21 notice?

If the tenant does not leave by the expiry date on the notice the landlord will need to apply to the court for a possession order. Provided the correct procedure has been followed by the landlord issuing the Section 21 notice, the court will have no choice but to grant the possession order.

After the court has issued the tenant with the notice to leave, if they have still not left within the required period, then a landlord can ask county court bailiffs to evict the tenant.

NOTE : Where a s.21 notice is served during the initial term of the tenancy requiring possession at the end of the fixed term and the parties later agree to renew the tenancy for a further fixed term, a fresh notice will need to be issued to the tenant(s) before possession can be sought

How should a Section 21 notice be issued?

A section 21 notice may be served by post or in person. The courts will recognise the day of postal service as the day on which the letter would normally have arrived.

If the tenant has not vacated, or paid up any rent arrears by date on the notice, then it will be necessary to start court possession proceedings. This is done by obtaining the appropriate forms from your local court. There are two procedures that can be used; the standard possession procedure and the accelerated possession procedure (APP).