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Major changes to the section 21 notice requirements for evicting tenants

Landlords take notice…and tenants too

Most tenancies granted by private landlords since 1989 have been assured shorthold tenancies. In the absence of an agreement between the landlord and tenant to end the tenancy if the landlord wishes to bring it to an end he must serve a written notice. With an assured shorthold tenancy there are two forms of notice. One is  a notice given under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (a section 8 notice) and the other is one under section 21 of the same Act (a section 21 notice).

For a section 8 notice to be effective it must detail “grounds” why possession is being sought and usually this requires a breach of the terms of the tenancy by the tenant. The section 21 notice does not require any allegation of breach by the tenant.

To be a valid section 21 notice it needs to be in writing and specify a date when possession is needed being at least 2 months from the date of service and not earlier than the end of any fixed term. In the case of contractual periodical tenancy ( eg month to month) it also needs to expire at the end of any period.

 As from the 1st October 2015 there are major changes to the section 21 notice  requirements for evicting tenants . None of these changes effect the ability to terminate the tenancy under a section 8 notice .

The changes apply at the moment  only to all assured shorthold tenancies created on or after the 1st October with the exception of “rolling” periodic tenancies arising at the end of the term of a fixed term tenancy which expires after the 1st October.

From the 1st October 2018 they will apply to all assured shorthold tenancies.

(1)    No section 21 notice can be served within the first 4 months of the start of a new tenancy (so you can’t serve a notice with the tenancy agreement);

(2)    Notices will have to be in a form set down by the Government;

(3)    In the case of contractual periodic tenancies granted after 1st October the date that possession is required is a date at least 2 months from the date of service (so it does not have to expire at the end of a period of the tenancy);

(4)    You cannot take possession proceedings for possession based on a section 21 notice if 6 months have elapsed since the date it was given to the tenant or 4 months have elapsed since the date that possession is required under the notice (which of course has to be at least 2 months from the time the notice is given). A new notice would need to be served if the old one falls foul of these provisions;

(5)    You must have supplied the tenant with a gas safety certificate before you can serve a section 21 notice;

(6)    You must have supplied the tenant with an energy performance certificate before you can serve a section 21 notice;

(7)    You must have supplied the tenant with a copy  (and this can be sent by email if the tenant agrees) of a leaflet published by the Government called “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”- search on GOV.UK for How to rent  and this must be served before you can serve a section 21  notice;

(8)    Where an improvement notice or emergency action notice has been served by the local authority requiring work to be done at the premises no section 21 notice can be served for a period of 6 months from the date of this local authority notice;

(9)    Likewise a section 21 notice served before such local authority notice can be invalidated by its subsequent service where it is found that the tenant previously notified the landlord in writing (texts will do) of the same or substantially the same problem and the landlord did not respond in writing or inadequately did so  within 14 days of such notification. These are complex provisions and landlords would be wise to take advice if they are considering serving a section 21 notice where the tenant has indicated in writing a disrepair issue.

All this is in addition to the existing law that invalidates a section 21 notice if ;-

(a)    The property is a House in Multiple Occupation (landlords are advised  to check with their local authority on this question) and requires to be licensed and is not; or
(b)    A deposit has been taken and either not protected under an authorised deposit protection scheme within 30 days of its receipt or if it is so protected the “prescribed information” not served unless, in either case, the deposit has been paid back to the tenant.

In conclusion landlords would be well advised to seek the help of a reputable letting agent when setting up a new tenancy from the 1st October 2015 and when seeking to terminate it to use such an agent or seek help from CAB or a solicitor. Tenants too now have more protection and would be well advised to seek such advice when faced with a section 21 notice.

Peter Humphris (at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) at these offices can assist in such matters.