SECTION 21

Along with other unprecedented measures to protect the public, there were ongoing changes to the notice period required to be given when serving a section 21 (“s.21”) notice under the Housing Act 1988.

Although the notice periods for section 8 and 21 notices are now back to the pre-covid notice periods, there are still notices being relied on by landlords and agents that were served when the notice period for section 21 notices was 6 and 4 months’ notice.

A section 21 notice is not indefinitely valid following the enactment of s.36 of the Deregulation Act 2015 which aimed to prevent s.21 notices hanging over tenants. A landlord has a limited time to apply to the Court for a possession order after the serving of a s.21 notice.

The time limits to apply to the Court for a possession order also changed each time the notice period for a section 21 notice changed.

Where a landlord gave a tenant a valid Section 21 notice between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 2021 inclusive, the notice period was 6 months’ notice. The notice can be relied upon to commence proceedings for:

  • 10 months from the date it is given to the tenant; or
  • 4 months from the date specified in the notice as the date after which possession is required.
  • The notice period during this time was a 6 months’ notice.

Where a landlord gave a tenant a valid Section 21 notice between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021, the notice period was 4 months’ notice. The notice can be relied upon to commence proceedings for:

  • 8 months from the date it is given to the tenant; or
  • 4 months from the date specified in the notice as the date after which possession is required.

Where a landlord gives a tenant a valid Section 21 notice on or after 1 October 2021, the notice period is back to its original notice period of 2 months’ notice. The notice can be relied upon to commence proceedings the notice will be valid for:

  • 6 months from the date it is given to the tenant; or
  • 4 months from the date specified in the notice as the date after which possession is required.
The Abolishment of the Section 21 Notice

S.21 enables private landlords to repossess their properties from assured shorthold tenants (ASTs) without having to establish fault on the part of the tenant. Hence it is sometimes referred to as the ‘no-fault’ ground for eviction.

Private tenants, their representative bodies, and others working in the sector argue the ability of landlords to terminate an AST at short notice has a detrimental effect on tenants’ wellbeing.

On 15 April 2019, the then-Government announced: “Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason.” This was followed by a consultation process which ran between July and October 2019. The consultation paper proposed the abolition of section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

In addition to abolishing section 21, the consultation paper proposed measures to strengthen and extend the Grounds for possession which are preceded by the service of a section 8 notice, particularly where the property is needed for the landlord’s or a family member’s use, and if the landlord wants to sell. The Government response was initially expected later in 2021.

On 3 March 2021 the Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, said the Renters’ Reform Bill will be brought forward “once the urgencies of responding to the pandemic have passed.”

There is a clear divide in opinion between organisations advocating on behalf of tenants and those advocating on behalf of private landlords. Broadly, tenant organisations support the abolition of section 21 while landlord bodies oppose it.