Section 21 eviction notice: What is it used for, what should I do if I receive one and do I have to leave my home after it?
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The Lib Dem politician claims some landlords use the notices to evict tenants after they complain about damp and black mould in their home.
Coun. Gordon Birtwistle says many families put up with mould in their rented home as they fear eviction.
He added: “It’s so ridiculously easy [to issue a Section 21 notice]. It gives the tenant 60 days to leave. That’s a shock in itself.
"Many landlords wouldn’t bat an eyelid if it makes families homeless. What do we do with the poor tenant now living on the street?
"I think it’s appalling when they have only complained about damp affecting their children’s health. Tenants have no chance if they complain.”
Here is everything you need to know about the issue and your rights as a tenant:
What is a Section 21 notice?
A landlord or agent can use a Section 21 notice to legally end an assured shorthold tenancy. It is sometimes called a “no fault” notice because your landlord does not need a reason for eviction.
It can be issued during either a:
- rolling periodic tenancy;
- fixed-term contract if there's a break clause.
The notice gives you at least two months to leave your home. Your landlord must apply to court to evict you after that date.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without a court order.
What are my rights after a Section 21 notice?
It's illegal to harass or force you out of your home, including pressuring you to leave without following the legal eviction process, or kicking or locking you out.
Contact your council if your landlord or anyone acting on their behalf tries to force you out. The council must arrange emergency housing if you're unsafe, on the streets, or in priority need.
If your tenancy agreement says you should let future tenants in for viewings, the landlord or agent can only enter your home with your permission and at a reasonable time.
Also, your landlord's responsibilities continue, including carrying out repairs.
What if I move out before the end of a notice?
If you want to leave before the end of the notice, your landlord should agree an earlier move out date. Keep letters, emails or texts as evidence.
How do I check if a Section 21 notice is valid?
A notice is invalid if the landlord has made a mistake or broken other rules. If so, they cannot use it to evict you.
Check the form and dates of the notice. It must be on Form 6A.
It is invalid if:
- It's too short;
- Your landlord waits too long to apply to court;
- You receive the notice during the first four months of your original tenancy.
The notice lasts from the date your landlord gives it to you until it says you have to leave by.
Is my deposit protected?
Your landlord cannot give you a valid Section 21 if your deposit is unprotected or was protected more than 30 days after your most recent contract started.
If you paid your deposit before April 6th, 2012, there are different rules about late protection.
If your landlord or agent breaks the tenancy deposit protection rules, they must return your deposit before giving you a Section 21 notice.
Your landlord must also give you certain written information about the deposit and the scheme used before they can give you a valid Section 21 notice.
When can my landlord not give me a Section 21 notice?
Your landlord cannot give you a valid Section 21 notice if:
- They have not given you current copies of the gas safety certificate, energy performance certificate (EPC), and the Government's How to rent guide. It only applies if your tenancy started or was renewed on or after October 1st, 2015.
- They took a higher deposit than five weeks' rent or a banned fee, unless they return the overcharged amount first. The landlord can still give you a Section 21 notice if the agent overcharged you. But you could argue that the agent did it on the landlord's behalf.
- They need a licence from the council to rent properties but don’t have one or a temporary exemption.
- The council orders them to do repairs under either an improvement notice or emergency works notice. It applies for six months.
- They give it you after you made a written complaint to them about conditions in the home.
What if I stay past the end of a notice?
Only court bailiffs or high court enforcement officers (HCEOs) can evict you. Landlords have four months from the end date to apply to court for a possession order to evict you.
You do not have to leave by the date on the possession order. If you do not, your landlord can ask bailiffs to evict you, who must give you at least two weeks' notice of the eviction date.
You might have to pay around £500 in court costs when being evicted by bailiffs. It could be more if there is a hearing.
Ask your council for help with costs if you have asked them for support, but they say you must stay in your home.
You can challenge the eviction in court if the section 21 is invalid. If the judge dismisses the case, you can stay and do not have to pay court costs.
How can the council help me?
The council must help prevent you becoming homeless if the notice is valid and ends in eight weeks or less or you meet immigration conditions.
The council could:
- Help you stay in your home or find somewhere else to live;
- Provide a loan or grant to pay off rent arrears;
- Provide emergency housing or financial help if you cannot afford to pay court costs if your landlord goes to court.
For more help and advice, visit https://england.shelter.org.uk/