Since the Coronavirus outbreak in March 2020 it has, up until 1st October 2021, been very difficult for Landlords to evict tenants. The rules have kept changing throughout the pandemic and, at times, this got very confusing for both Landlords and tenants alike.
Put simply, a Section 21 notice is the easiest way a Landlord can evict a tenant. Known as the ‘no fault’ eviction, a Landlord does not have to give a reason to gain possession of a property. You can serve a Section 21 only if an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement was signed upon the start of the tenancy. The ASTs fixed term, which is usually six months or one year, must have come to an end for a Section 21 notice to be served or can be served two months before the end of the fixed period. Alternatively, the notice can also be served if the AST has no fixed term, known as a ‘periodic tenancy’.
The Coronavirus Act 2020
The Coronavirus Act of 2020 is emergency legislation passed by Parliament that grants the UK Government emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of this legislation meant that Landlords had to give tenants an increased notice period to gain possession of a residential property. These rules surrounding the Section 21 eviction notice were in place between 26th March 2020 and 30th September 2021.
Pre-Pandemic, the rules around serving a section 21 notice were fairly simple. The Landlord had to give the tenant two months notice before they can act on the section. The Landlord then had six months to start court proceedings. The Section 21 notice became invalid if the Landlord did not act upon the section within six months after the notice period.
This is where things start to get confusing:
- Between 26th March 2020 – 28th August 2020 the rules surrounding eviction and section 21 notices changed for the first time. The notice period changed from the standard two month notice to a new three month minimum notice. The Landlord still had six months to start court proceedings.
- Between 29th August 2020 – 31st May 2021 the rules changed again. The Landlord now had to give a notice period of six months. However, the Landlord then had ten months to start court proceedings.
- Between 1 June 2021 - 30 September 2021 The rules changed to a four months notice period, with Landlords having eight months to start court proceedings.
- On or after 1st October 2021 the rules surrounding section 21 notices finally changed back to the standard pre-pandemic rules of a two month notice period, which gives Landlords six months to act upon the section 21 form and start court proceedings. But be warned, the Government can choose to reintroduce longer notice periods at any time before 25th March 2022!
Use an agency to serve a Section 21 on your behalf
Without using a professional letting agency, mistakes when serving a section 21 are very common which make the notice invalid.
These usually include:
- Not using the correct form (Section 21 form 6A).
- Spelling mistakes.
- Attaching a letter/document to the notice.
- Not securing a tenant’s deposit in a Government backed scheme (such as Deposit Protection Service)
- Not giving the tenant a copy of the Prescribed Information if they have paid a deposit.
- Documents such as the ‘GSC’ (Gas Safety Certificate), ‘EPC’ (Energy Performance Certificate), ‘How to Rent Guide’, ‘EICR’ (Electrical Installation Condition Report) and a ‘Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm test certificate’ may not have been given with the original tenancy agreement and should have also been given with any subsequent tenancy agreements. This will cause major problems when notice has been served and when you are applying for a possession order from the courts, your claim may not be granted.
- Serving the notice when a tenant has recently complained about disrepair within the property.
What are the correct ways to serve a Section 21 notice?
For a Landlord to serve a section 21 notice, they must make sure they have correctly completed a
‘Form 6A’ before serving the notice to the tenant. A Landlord must be able to prove the tenant has received the Section 21 notice.
The best ways to serve notice the tenant are:
- Delivered in Person – The speediest way to serve notice is by physically handing the notice to the tenant. We would also advice to post another copy of the notice to the tenant via recorded delivery for extra protection.
- Recorded Delivery – The day the notice is delivered on is the day the notice will begin.
- Process Server – A professional service that will serve the notice for you. This service will provide proof to the courts that the notice was served.
Any of these methods will provide proof to the courts that the notice was served.
What if the tenant is still residing in the property after the notice date?
If the tenant has not vacated the property by the notice date, this gives the Landlord the right to start court action. Remember the Tenant is well within their rights to ignore the notice and stay within the property and wait for the possession order by the courts. If the tenant still refuses to leave, then the court bailiff will need to be instructed to carry out an eviction. The Bailiff will be able to remove anyone that is residing in the property.
The process of evicting a tenant is not easy and can be quite long-winded, however, if everything is done correctly at the beginning of the tenancy and legislation is followed through, you should not encounter any difficulties.
If you require any assistance with serving a section 21 notice Manchester Lettings Limited will be happy to help.