Section 21 – Notice of Possession

How to End an Assured Shorthold Tenancy

For ending an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, (AST), landlord must serve a “Section 21- Notice of Possession” to his Tenants.

What exactly is a Section 21 Notice of possession

A Section 21 Notice for possession is essentially a legal document that must be given by a landlord to his tenants if he wants to regain possession of his property. As a landlord, you can easily give a Section 21 Notice of possession to your tenants, without even providing a reason for doing so. You can serve this notice of possession on or after the end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

What is the best time to issue a Section 21 notice?

According to Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, a Landlord has all the legal rights to obtain possession of his property after the end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This is true as long as the tenancy has come to an end, and the landlords have followed all the legal procedures correctly and properly by issuing Section 21 Notice to their tenants. If you want to completely protect yourself, it is often recommended that a Notice should be given to all the tenants residing in your property; this holds specifically true in ‘shared accommodations’.

In case, the tenancy has not yet ended, but there is a valid reason to evict your tenant, then you can easily serve a Section 8 Notice to your tenants. However, you should make sure that the ‘notice to quit ‘you serve to your tenants is completely valid.

Service of Notice

The landlord can serve the notice either by post or deliver it to the tenants in person.

In case, you decide to serve the notice by using postage services, it is often advisable that you should do this with the help of ‘recorded delivery’ service. This record will act as a proof that your notice has been received properly by your tenants. You can use this proof in Court if the need arises. The date of post in the recorded delivery service is recognised as a legal proof by the Court, however, it considers the date on which the notice arrives instead of the day on which it is sent.

On the other hand, you can also deliver the letter containing the notice in person. In this case, it is often recommended that you should take a witness along with you. This witness is required in court to confirm the statement on your part regarding the delivery of eviction notice, or in case your tenant claims that you have not provided him the notice.

How to Serve a Section 21 Notice for the period of the Fixed Term of the Tenancy

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, which is amended under the Housing Act 1996 describes, “the landlord under a fixed term tenancy to give two months’ notice to recover possession in writing”.

This section means that if a tenant is covered with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, he must be provided at least two months written notice before the end date. The landlords can accomplish this by serving a Section 21 Notice stating all the intentions to repossess their property, and the proper grounds and basis they are using to support the eviction claim. This two months period, after serving the written notice, starts after the tenant provides Section 21 receipt confirming that he received the notice.

According to the Housing Act 1988, the landlord cannot take possession of his property during anytime within the fixed term of the tenancy; however, he can serve a Notice as long as the tenant is provided at least a two month’s period before the eviction date. After a period of two months of ‘Section 21 Notice’, the tenant will be legally required to leave the landowner’s property. It’s worth mentioning that Section 21 Notices can be served up to the last date of the fixed term tenancy.

Various provisions available in section 21(1) (b) that can be used to apply for a fixed term tenancy:

“Without prejudice to any right of the landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy to recover possession of the dwelling-house let on the tenancy in accordance with Chapter I above, on or after the coming to an end of an assured shorthold tenancy which was a fixed-term tenancy, a court shall make an order for possession of the dwelling-house if it is satisfied- “

a)      “that the assured shorthold tenancy has come to an end and no further assured tenancy (whether shorthold or not) is for the time being in existence, other than a statutory periodic tenancy:”

b)     “the landlord, or in the case of joint landlords, at least one of them has given to the tenant not less than two months’ notice stating that he requires possession of the dwelling-house.”

It is quite possible to serve this Notice within at least two months before the ending date of the tenancy period; however, it should never be dated for just the purpose of expiring on or even before the last date of the tenancy period. For instance, let’s say the tenancy period is to end on 31 March then the eviction notice can be given to tenants even 3 months before the last date i.e. on 30 December. However, the date mentioned on the notice must be provided on or before the last day of the fixed term, on which the tenancy period comes to an end i.e. 31 March.

In case a Section 21 Notice is given by the landlord during any time in the fixed term of the tenancy period, but the landlord also issues another fixed term tenancy to his tenant, then also landlord is required to serve a New Section 21 Notice to his tenant if the landlord wants to regain possession of his property.

Serving a Section 21 Notice during a periodic Tenancy

When the fixed term tenancy ends, the tenancy will automatically become a periodic tenancy, unless a new fixed term is signed. The new tenancy will be a week to week or a month to month periodic tenancy. It actually depends on the way your tenant wants to pay his rent.

According to section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, landlord has to follow a slightly different procedure in comparison to giving an eviction notice to tenants within a periodic tenancy.

All the assured shorthold tenancies, which have become periodic, comes under Section 21(4) (a) of the Housing Act 1988.

“Without prejudice to any such right as is referred to in subsection (1) above, a court shall make an order for possession of a dwelling house let on an assured shorthold tenancy which is a periodic tenancy if the court is satisfied”.

(a) “that the landlord or, in the case of joint landlords, at least one of them has given to the tenant a notice stating that, after a date specified in the notice, being the last day of a period of the tenancy and not earlier than two months after the date the notice was given, possession of the dwelling-house is required by virtue of this section; and”

(b) “ that the date specified in the notice under paragraph (a) above is not earlier than the earliest day on which, …….., the tenancy could be brought to an end by a notice to quit given by the landlord on the same date  as the notice under paragraph (a) above”

A minimum notice period of 2 months is required; if a landlord wants to serve section 21 notices to his tenant in the fixed tenancy. The notice must expire on the last date fixed tenancy.

The type of tenancy period actually depends on your tenant, and how frequently he pays the rent. If he plans to pay rent every week then the tenancy will automatically become weekly periodic tenancy. On the other hand if he wants to pay rent every month, it will become a monthly periodic tenancy.

This new periodic tenancy will start automatically right after the end date of fixed term tenancy. For instance, it the fixed tenancy ends on 5th, the periodic tenancy will start from 6th of that month. The last date for paying rent in this periodic tenancy will be 10th of every month. As a result, the expiry date of section 21 notice will is 10th of the month; however, it should be issued before at least two months prior to 10th of the month.

What a landlord can do when the tenant refuses to leave even after the expiry of section-21 notice?

In case, the tenant refuses to leave your property even after the expiry date, and on serving the notice by the landlord. The landlord can apply to the court against his tenant for the possession of his property. If the landlord follows all the procedures correctly and properly by issuing Section 21 eviction notice, there is no chance that the court will not grant him the possession of his property.

In case the tenant refuses to leave even after getting the eviction notice from the court, the landlord can approach county court to evict his tenant in order to regain possession.