Throughout the coronavirus pandemic there have been extensive restrictions in place to prevent evictions taking place. As the lifting of restrictions begins it is worthwhile for tenants to be aware of the process in which evictions take place and your rights in response. For most tenants, their tenancy agreement will be an assured shorthold tenancy or a periodic tenancy (where a tenant remains in the property after the term of an assured shorthold tenancy expires without signing a new agreement), and the most common eviction process for these tenancies is under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. So what is a Section 21 Notice and how do you know if it is valid?
What is a Section 21 notice?
A Section 21 notice can be used in instances where a landlord wishes to regain possession back from a tenant if:
• A fixed term tenancy ends, provided this tenancy has been made by a written contact;
• During a tenancy with no fixed end date.
The notice will give a set date which a tenant would have to vacate the property. It is important to note that landlords are not required to give a reason for wanting a tenant to leave under this procedure.
Section 21 Exceptions
There are requirements which need to be met before sending a Section 21 notice, if your landlord does not comply with these requirements the Section 21 notice will be invalid and can be contested. A valid Section 21 notice cannot be served if:
• it’s less than 4 months since the tenancy started, or the fixed term has not ended, unless there’s a clause in the contract which allows you to do this;
• the property is categorised as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and does not have a HMO licence from the council;
• your landlord has not placed your tenancy deposit in a deposit protection scheme and sent you the prescribed information;
• if the tenancy started after October 2015 and the landlord has not used form 6a or a letter with all the same information on it;
• if the council has served an improvement notice on the property in the last 6 months;
• if the council has served a notice in the last 6 months that says it will do emergency works on the property;
• if the landlord has not repaid any unlawful fees or deposits that they have charged.
Additionally, a notice cannot be issued if your landlord has not given you a copy of the following
• the property’s Energy Performance Certificate;
• the government’s ‘How to rent’ guide;
• a current gas safety certificate for the property, if gas is installed;
• A copy of a current electrical safety certificate. This will apply to all tenancies including HMO’s with 5 or more tenants. It does not however apply to social housing, lodgers, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices.
If you are a tenant who receives a Section 21 notice, check to see whether any of these apply to your situation, should this be the case the Section 21 notice requiring you to leave the property may be invalid.
If all the above do not apply and your landlord issues you a Section 21 they still must give you a specific notice period to vacate the property and cannot force you to leave before this period is over: These periods have been adjusted due to the coronavirus pandemic see below for the up to date periods:
• If you received notice between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020, the notice period must have been at least 3 months;
• If you received notice between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 2021, the notice period must have been at least 6 months;
• If you received notice on or after 1 June 2021, the notice period must be at least 4 months.
If you have been served with a Section 21 notice and based on the above you think it was invalid or if you are a landlord and want assistance to ensure a valid notices is sent to your tenant, please contact our Dispute Resolution team 0116 255 1811 or via the contact forms on our website for more advice.
You can learn more about our Dispute & Resolution Team by clicking here.
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