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Section 21 Notices- How long should they be?

Our People - David Still
27 October, 2021

If you are an Assured Shorthold Tenant, your Landlord can bring your tenancy to an end by serving a Notice on you under Section 21 of the Housing Act, which is often referred to as a ‘Section 21 Notice.’ After the end of the period given in this Notice (see below), the Landlord can apply to Court for a Possession Order and eventually evict you. The Landlord does not have to show that he has any grounds, such as rent arrears, for doing this.

With a fixed term tenancy, such as a tenancy granted for 12 months, the landlord can only use a Section 21 Notice after the fixed term ends, unless there is a contractual clause in the tenancy allowing the landlord to recover possession before the end of the fixed term.  If you are a tenant, and you have received one of these Notices, you should always take advice to see if you have any Defence. Sometimes landlords use the Notice when they shouldn’t.  The following are some examples.

  • The Landlord cannot use this Notice if he has failed to protect your Deposit in a Deposit Protection Scheme or you live in a House in Multiple Occupation and the Landlord has failed to obtain a required Licence.
  • The Landlord also cannot use one of these Notices if he has failed to provide you with copies of certain documents such as the Energy Performance Certificate, the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ Guide, or a current Gas Safety Certificate.

The ‘Section 21 Notice’ also needs to be given for the correct length of time.  The period of time required has been changed on several occasions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The period of notice required changed again recently. Since 1st October 2021, the period of Notice that you must be given by the landlord has been reduced to two months, which had been the required notice period before COVID-19. During the pandemic the periods of Notice required had been increased as follows: –

  • Between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020, the notice period must have been at least 3 months.
  • Between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 2021, the notice period must have been at least 6 months.
  • And, between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021, the notice period must have been at least 4 months.
  • Since 1st October, it is again two months (unless you have a periodic tenancy, then the amount of notice must be the same as the rental period, if this is more than 2 months, so, for example, if you pay rent every 3 months, you must give 3 months’ notice).

If you have received a ‘Section 21 Notice’, you should get advice about whether the period of notice is correct or whether you have any defence.  You can call our Housing Team on 020 8492 2290.

Solicitor
David Still is a Solicitor advising on mental health law, community care, homelessness and social welfare law.

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