It is important a Section 21 Notice is served correctly to avoid costly and frustrating delays.
What is a Section Notice for?
This is the first step to gaining possession of a rental property at the end of a fixed term or Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).
A Section 21 Notice can be served at any time after a tenancy has commenced. The notice period the landlord must give is a minimum of 2 months and this must be in writing. The notice period should not end before the end of the actual tenancy agreement.
The landlord should ask the tenant to sign a Section 21 Notice at the same time they sign the tenancy agreement as this may invalidate the notice.
A landlord can serve the Section 21 Notice on the last day of the tenancy, however, the tenant would then have a minimum of 2 months before they would have to vacate the property.
It is very important therefore that you decide when you will serve the Section 21 Notice and put an entry in your calendar as a reminder.
When can a Section 21 Notice be served?
The Section 21 Notice has a number of restrictions and cannot be served:
If the property is outside of England;
The tenancy is less than 4 months;
If the tenancy agreement is not an AST;
If the fixed term of the tenancy has not ended;
If the tenant has paid a deposit and it is not in an approved government tenant deposit scheme and the tenant has not been provided with the relevant information about their deposit;
If the tenant has not been provided with a Gas Safety Certificate (CP12), Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and a copy of the HM Government’s How to Rent Guide;
If the property is a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) and does not have a licence from the council;
If a local authority has served an improvement notice on the property within the last 6 months;
If a tenant has made a formal complaint regarding the conditions of the property and the landlord has failed to respond or the response is inadequate;
If the property does not have a smoke alarm on each storey;
If the property does not have carbon monoxide alarm on each storey.
The Section 8 Notice must state the grounds upon which possession is being sought. If the mandatory grounds are met the court must make an order for possession.
A well drafted tenancy agreement will always state that possession may be sought under these grounds as the tenant must know this before the tenancy commences.
What happens if the tenancy has ended?
A landlord can issue a Section 21 Notice after the tenancy has ended but at least 2 months notice must be given to the tenant to vacate the property.
Serving the Notice
If you use a legally approved document and the date is wrong in the notice it may not invalidate it. Provided that you have stated how the notice period is calculated.
All tenants, even absent or former ones, must be served with the notice and their names and specific property address correctly stated.
The notice should be served in the manner stated in the tenancy agreement. If the tenancy is an Assured Tenancy then the Section 21 Notice must be given to the tenant directly or through the postbox at the property.
Each tenant is required to sign and return a copy of the notice which the landlord should of course retain.
Provided the Section 21 Notice is served correctly the landlord can apply to the courts for an Accelerated Procedure to obtain possession. In most cases there is actually no need for a court hearing. This process can take up to 10 weeks dependant upon the availability of the courts.