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Five top tips for getting your Section 21 notice right

8th Nov 2023 | Real Estate Dispute Resolution
a row of red and white terraced houses on a street

The government recently announced delays to the Renters (Reform) Bill and their plans to ban no-fault evictions until there are sufficient reforms in the court system. The delays mean that despite the long discussions around abolishing section 21 notices, there are no immediate plans to remove this method of no-fault eviction.

Whilst section 21 remains, landlords must know the key requirements when serving a section 21 notice to ensure it is valid to recover their property. Jessica Gray, trainee solicitor, and Sarah Barratt, partner in our real estate dispute resolution team, discuss five key things landlords must consider when serving a section 21 notice.

1. Form and notice 

You must use Form 6A  (found on the website). You should also ensure that the notes accompanying form 6A are served with it.

A section 21 notice will only be valid if the notice period is at least two months (although, in certain circumstances, it may need to be longer) and is served at least four months into the tenancy.

2. Tenancy documents 

You cannot serve a section 21 notice unless the tenant has received certain documents relating to their tenancy, including:

  • A valid EPC
  • How to Rent Guide
    • It is important to check that you provide the correct version of the guide (i.e., the version in place when the tenancy began).
  • Gas safety certificates
    • This includes the certificate in place at the start of the tenancy and for each annual gas safety inspection carried out during the tenancy.

3. Tenancy deposit 

When a tenant pays a deposit at the start of their tenancy, this must be protected in a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving the deposit. Failure to protect the deposit at all or in the relevant time frame means you must return the deposit before you can serve a section 21 notice.

A landlord must give the tenant certain written information about the deposit and the tenancy deposit scheme, and this information must also be given to any person who pays the deposit on the tenant’s behalf. If you did not give this information at the start of the tenancy, then you must provide the information before serving a section 21 notice.

4. Tenant fees 

If the tenancy began on or after 1 June 2019, certain tenancy-related fees are banned under the Tenant Fees Act 2019. If a tenancy began before this date, the ban applies to fees charged from 1 June 2020.

Under this legislation, a landlord may only charge their tenant fees in certain circumstances, including charges for late rent payments, lost keys or fobs, ending the tenancy early or changing or transferring the tenancy. Importantly, it also limits the amount of deposit and holding deposits which may be taken. If a tenant is charged unlawful fees during their tenancy, you must repay the fees before serving a section 21 notice.

5. Disrepair and licencing 

If a tenant has complained to their local authority about the condition of the property, and the local authority has served an improvement notice or emergency works notice, then you cannot serve a section 21 notice until six months after receiving notice from the council.

Licences may be required for private landlords in certain areas or for landlords of certain properties (such as houses in multiple occupation). If you require a licence, then you must not serve a section 21 notice unless you have (or have applied for) a licence or a temporary exemption.

The section 21 procedure is very complicated, and failure to comply with any requirement may mean that any notice served is invalid and recovering possession of your property may not be possible.

For advice on this area, please contact Sarah Barratt on 0191 211 7923 or email [email protected]

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