Section 21 Notices in 2021.
Also known as a “no-fault eviction”, a Section 21 Notice is one of the most controversial aspects of the Housing Act 1988. It lets a landlord start the legal process to repossess the property at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) or during a periodic tenancy without needing to give a reason for why they want the house back.
What’s happening with Section 21 Notices in 2021?
Section 21 was enacted at a time when privately renting residential property had become rather unprofitable in England and Wales. It incentivised landlords to rent out their properties by reassuring them that they could gain repossession of the property if need be. They have been so popular that in 2020, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 12 private tenants in England received them.
The reality that good tenants who pay their rent on time and do not damage the property can be evicted for no reason has naturally attracted a lot of criticism. So much so that in 2019 the government announced their intention to scrap Section 21 Notices altogether in a Renters’ Reform Bill. In the Queen’s Speech on 11 May 2021, this was promised once again. A date has not yet been set for when this Bill will come into legislation, but the Renters' Reform Coalition has recently been launched to campaign for such reform to take place quickly.
Can landlords still serve Section 21 Notices?
Under this amendment to the coronavirus legislation, landlords in England who serve Section 21 Notices between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 2021 must give their tenants at least 6 months notice. After 1 June 2021, the Housing Minister has announced that the notice period will be at least 4 months long. Then from 1 October 2021, the Section 21 notice period will return to pre-pandemic length of at least 2 months notice.
Since a Section 21 Notice is not actually an eviction, but rather the first stage in the eviction process (a judge still needs to make a possession order), a landlord must wait until after the notice period has elapsed to actually start court proceedings. A landlord then has 4 months to start the proceedings or else they will have to serve a new notice. This time limit is usually 6 months from the date the Section 21 notice was served but due to COVID-19 extensions, it is now 10 months (until 1 June 2021).
For landlords looking to serve Section 21 Notices now, an updated Form 6A must be used because it reflects the extensions mentioned above. The form can be found here. It is imperative that a landlord use this prescribed form and follow all the other relevant rules, otherwise under the Deregulation Act 2015, the Section 21 Notice becomes invalid.
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Notices served post 1st October 2021
From 1st October 2021, notice periods in England will return to their pre-Covid lengths. This means that the minimum notice period under a section 21 notice will be reduced to two months. Despite these changes, the government has retained its ability to re-apply longer notice periods, as they have prior to this change. This power of extension will expire on 25th March 2022. Crucially, this change only affects rentals in England.
How can Legislate help you?
Legislate is a contracting platform where landlords can create contracts relevant to the property they rent, ranging from tenancy agreements to letter agreements for serving notices. It ensures documents used by landlords are fair, up-to-date with the law and reviewed by a lawyer. You can read how to create your first Legislate agreements in our tutorial and watch a short demo. If you would like to try Legislate, please book an introductory call.
The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.