Section 21 notices are so-called because they fall under the respective section of the 1988 Housing Act. They basically allow a landlord to inform their tenant that, come the end of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), they wish to regain possession of their property.
Landlords are not obliged to provide a reason for their decision, but what they must do is follow the correct procedure surrounding the notice/Act. For example, the notice must be provided in written form; a verbal agreement would not stand up in a court of law and tenants are often advised not to take such an agreement seriously. They are not legally obliged to vacate a property unless written notice has been served.
Although there is no set style or template landlords must use when crafting their written notice, many estate agents offer templates that can help guide any landlords setting upon this task for the first time.
What’s more, the notice has to be divided into certain sections. These will differ depending on whether the AST has finished yet or not. After this has finished, typically the tenant will fall under what is commonly referred to as a ‘periodic tenancy’, meaning the usual rules surrounding Section 21 notices don’t always apply.
For notices issued prior to the end of the AST
If the AST has not yet ended, landlords must give at least two months’ notice that they wish to regain possession of their property. This period must end in combination with the end-date of the AST.
The tenant retains the right to stay in the property for the two-month period following receipt of the Section 21 notice and landlords can issue the notice earlier than two months before the end of the AST – but cannot force tenants out before it has finished. It’s worth noting that this period begins not when the notice was sent out, but as soon as the tenant receives the notice. The Section 21 notice can be followed up by a court-mandated possession order; however the landlord must prove the notice has been issued first.
The thinking behind the two-month notice period is that eight weeks provides ample time for tenants to search for and secure a new abode.
If the tenant’s rent isn’t up to date
If a landlord is issuing a Section 21 notice as a result of their tenant’s rental payments falling into arrears, that’s absolutely fine. However they must be aware that issuing this notice does nothing to remedy the situation of the missing rental payments. Typically, a case would need to be filed with the small claims court in order to obtain this money; but if landlords decide to opt for a possession order from a court, this can help with securing the money owed.
There is a great deal more to learn about Section 21 notices, so if you’re a landlord considering issuing one, or a tenant with fears that you may receive one, it’s worth reading up more on the subject. Although they shouldn’t be feared, Section 21 notices certainly can cause a little upheaval, but knowing your rights in advance can make the process much easier.