In the UK, landlords generally need to evict a tenant by using either a Section 21 notice, Section 8 notice, or both.


If a tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy, the landlord can use the Section 8 notice. Otherwise, the Section 21 notice (also known as a no-fault eviction) is generally required to evict without fault.


Section 8 is usually simple and straightforward. For this article, we will focus on the Section 21 notice of no-fault eviction.


Situations where you can use a Section 21 notice to evict a tenant include:


1. At the end of the fixed term of the rental contract, if you have a written contract.

2. In the absence of a fixed end date for the duration of the lease, this is also known as a “fixed-term” lease.


Before issuing a Section 21 notice, the landlord must provide the following information to the tenant:


1. Energy Performance Certificate in relation to the property.

2. A guide to ‘How to Rent’ from the UK government.

3. If the property has natural gas installed, an up-to-date natural gas safety certificate is required.


What protections do tenants have when it comes to Section 21 notices?


Tenants have certain rights and protections before their landlord can issue a Section 21 notice. The landlord can’t legally use a Section 21 notice to evict the tenant if:


1. The lease contract started less than 4 months ago or the fixed term has not expired, unless the contract contains a clause that allows for early termination of the lease.

2. The property is classified as a multi-use residential (HMO) but does not have an HMO license issued by the local government.

3. The lease commenced after April 2007, but the landlord did not put the tenant’s deposit into a security deposit protection scheme.

4. For leases commencing after October 2015, the landlord did not use Form 6a or a letter containing the same information.

5. The local government has issued an improvement notice to the property in the past 6 months.

6. The local government has issued a notice in the last 6 months stating that emergency repairs are to be made to the property.

7. The landlord has not returned illegal fees or deposits.


As long as one of the situations we just described happens, the landlord cannot use the Section 21 notice to evict the tenant.


How long does it take for a landlord who meets all the conditions to use Section 21 to evict a tenant? How much notice is required, and what if the tenant insists on not leaving?


First of all, the length of the notice period depends on the nature of the breach of the terms of the lease. Generally, the notice period is at least two months, but if you have a fixed-term rental contract, the notice period must be the same as the lease period.


If the tenant refuses to leave, the landlord can apply to the court for a compulsory possession order.


In deciding whether to grant mandatory grounds for possession, the court will take into account different circumstances. For example, if the landlord needs to take possession of the house because it was once used as a primary residence, or now plans to use it as a primary residence, then this reason is usually accepted.


There are other reasons, such as if the property is subject to a mortgage, or the lease is not more than 8 months and was previously a holiday let. Keep in mind, however, that the court will also consider circumstances at its discretion, such as the tenant being in rental arrears or destruction of the property, which may be grounds for granting possession.


The new Labour government will abolish Section 21 with immediate effect?


In their 2024 manifesto, Labour pledged to immediately abolish Section 21 eviction powers. However, due to the Renters Reform Bill being dropped in the run-up to the election, the new Labour government will need to start again with primary legislation. This could be a straightforward bill focused solely on repealing Section 21 or part of a broader Renters Reform Bill 2.0 with additional changes.


The new legislation would need to pass through both houses of parliament, receive Royal Assent, and then undergo an implementation and transition period before taking effect. It’s expected that Section 21 notices served before the new legislation’s enactment would likely remain valid, following standard transitional arrangements for existing tenancies, as outlined in Labour’s amendments to the Renters Reform Bill.


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