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Advising on section 21 notices: toolkit

Posted on 29/10/21 in Housing Matters

Advising on section 21 notices: toolkit

A toolkit on section 21 notices for advisers and practitioners dealing with tenancy issues and defending possession proceedings.

Section 21 notices

A section 21 notice does not require the landlord to prove a legal reason for evicting the tenant. It was first introduced by the Housing Act 1988 and is the most common type of notice served on tenants in the private rented sector today.

The rules for serving a valid section 21 notice have become increasingly complex over the years. The notice validity depends on a number of factors, including the tenancy start date, the date when the notice was served and whether the landlord has complied with tenancy deposit protection requirements. 

Resources for professionals 

Shelter Legal 

Shelter Legal is an online guide to housing law for professionals. It covers topics such as homeless applications, tenancy rights, validity of notices and eviction.

Section 21 notices for assured shorthold tenancies offers a comprehensive overview of the rules a landlord has to comply with for the section 21 notice to be valid, including a table listing the temporary extensions to the minimum section 21 notice period during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Restrictions on use of section 21 for assured shorthold tenancies provides an overview of conditions that must be met before a landlord can serve a valid section 21 notice. 

Section 21 possession procedure sets out what happens after a section 21 notice is served and possible public law, human rights, and Equality Act defences available to the tenant.

Accelerated possession procedure for assured shorthold tenancies outlines when a landlord who has served a valid section 21 notice can obtain a possession order without a hearing.

Tenancy deposit rules explains the requirements to protect the tenant deposit that must be fulfilled for a section 21 notice to be valid.

Sanctions for letting an unlicensed HMO or breaching licence conditions explains when a landlord of a house in multiple occupation cannot serve a valid section 21 notice.

Housing matters articles

Housing Matters articles are written by practitioners and include commentary, practical advice, case law updates and discussion of key legal issues. 

Section 21 notices: getting the dates right examines the rules governing section 21 notices, with a particular focus on basic notice requirements, including the minimum notice length. 

When landlords cannot use section 21 notices explains what a landlord must do before serving a section 21 notice for the notice to be valid. 

Our Housing matters possession and eviction section contains articles about section 21 notices, including a summary of defences available from 1 October 2018 and an overview of the impact of the Deregulation Act 2015. 

Other professional resources Technical guidance on eviction notices
A non-statutory guidance on the validity of notices served during the coronavirus pandemic. Tenancy form 6A
An up to date version of the prescribed form 6A that landlords must use to serve a section 21 notice.

Nearly Legal: Section 21 flowchart
The Nearly Legal blog offers a section 21 notice flowchart and a calculator tool for checking whether the landlord has complied with the extended minimum notice periods. 

Resources for tenants

Shelter Housing Advice

Section 21 eviction guides tenants through the process a landlord must follow to evict them, starting with serving a valid notice. 

Occupiers who are unsure whether the section 21 procedure applies to them, can check whether they have an assured shorthold tenancy.

The coronavirus notice checker allows tenants to check whether the landlord has complied with the extended minimum notice periods.  

NHAS factsheets

Our easy to read factsheets for the public can be printed and shared. 

They include:

  • Section 21: accelerated proceedings
  • Section 21: defences from 1 October 2018
  • Section 21: notice periods
  • Section 21: restrictions

You can find these and more on our factsheets page.

Legislation, case law and guidance

Key legislation

Housing Act 1988
The Act introduced assured shorthold tenancies and section 21 possession procedure. 

Housing Act 2004
The Act introduced tenancy deposit protection for assured shorthold tenants, sanctions for non-compliance, and restricted on the use of section 21 notices for landlords operating unlicensed HMOs.

Deregulation Act 2015
The Act introduced additional rules landlords have to comply with before serving a valid section 21 notice, including:

  • the notion of deemed compliance where an assured shorthold tenancy continues after the end of the initial contract
  • restricting the landlord’s ability to serve a section 21 notice during the first four months of the original tenancy
  • repayment of rent where an assured shorthold tenancy ends as a result of a section 21 notice
  • retaliatory eviction defence

Tenant Fees Act 2019
Section 17 of the 2019 Act prevents the landlord who has charged an assured shorthold tenant a prohibited payment from serving a section 21 notice.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015/1646
These regulations introduced the requirement for landlords to provide a copy of the EPC and a current gas safety certificate before serving a section 21 notice. They also amended The Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015/620 to introduce the prescribed form 6A. The form has been amended and updated multiple times. The one currently in use has been inserted by The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies and Notices) (Amendment and Suspension) (England) Regulations 2021/994.

Covid-related legislation 

Coronavirus Act 2020
The Act extended the minimum notice periods for notices served on residential tenancies, including section 21 notices. The provisions came into force on 26 March 2020 and expired on 30 September 2021. They were subject to amendments.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020/914
The Regulations extended the minimum section 21 notice period to six months between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 2021. 

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2021/564
The Regulations extended the minimum section 21 notice period to four months between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021. 

Relevant case law

Charalambous and another v NG and another [2014] EWCA Civ 1604
Landlords who received tenancy deposits before 6 April 2007 had to protect them before serving a section 21 notice but were not liable for any sanctions.

Amey v Kazim & Ors [2018] EWCA Civ 2414
A section 21 notice is effective only if it is served by the immediate landlord of the assured shorthold tenant who is being evicted. 

Trecarrell House Ltd v Rouncefield [2020] EWCA Civ 760
A landlord who serves a gas safety certificate before or at the time of serving a section 21 notice, complies with the prescribed requirement in section 21A of the Housing Act 1988. 

Minister v Hathaway [2021] EWCA Civ 936
A landlord is not required to provide an EPC where an assured shorthold tenancy started before 1 October 2015 and has not been renewed since. 

Statutory guidance

Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities
Chapter 6 provides information on local authorities’ duties to homeless applicants who have received a section 21 notice.