Section 21 Evictions: Everything you need to know

Section 21 eviction notices

Table of contents

  • Introduction

  • What is Section 21?

  • What does it mean if you receive a Section 21 Notice?

  • Why and how will it change?

  • When will these changes come into effect?

  • Will the PM's and Housing Minister's resignation affect the reform to Section 21?

  • The Renters Reform Bill

The world of private renting was taken by storm this summer when the long-awaited government white paper on wide-scale reform to the rental industry was finally proposed and discussed in parliament.

One of the proposed changes surrounded swinging an axe at the controversial Section 21 notice. This blog will detail all you need to know about what a Section 21 eviction notice is and its rocky-footed future in UK law.

What is a Section 21 notice?

Section 21 refers to the legal provisions in place regarding the right of landlords to evict tenants of their properties with only a two-month notice period. Currently, Section 21 holds that landlords are not required to give their tenants a reason for evicting them wherein they are likely not to have broken the tenancy agreement in any way; this has resulted in the term "no-fault evictions".

What does it mean if you receive a Section 21 Notice?

A Section 21 notice is only applicable where:

  • The tenant has an assured shorthold tenancy; if you do not have this type of tenancy, you will be able to challenge this notice. 

  • After four months of the start of the tenancy

  • The rental property is in England

  • The fixed term has concluded

As it currently stands a no fault eviction means that landlords do not have to provide grounds of reasoning when issuing a Section 21 notice to evict the tenant from their property. They essentially can evict on a whim.

However, landlords cannot issue a Section 21 eviction notice as a retaliatory action. This stipulation applies to all tenancies agreed upon after 1st October 2015.

unlock property

When receiving a Section 21 notice, the landlord takes the first step to notify you of eviction proceedings and can do so without reason. 230,000 private renters have been served no-fault eviction notices since 2019, giving tenants only two months to arrange alternative accommodation. It is also worth noting that there are several requirements the notice must adhere to to be valid, which are found under Section 21 and are well documented by Shelter.

Landlords can serve no-fault eviction notices in four ways: by post, email, in person or by the managing agent if signed by the landlord.

Each method has specific requirements that must be adhered to in order to be deemed valid. A tenancy, which commenced following 30th September 2015, must include specific prescribed information that will most likely require a solicitor to ensure its validity. As a tenant, you can challenge the validity of the notice in court; however, if you are unsuccessful, you may be asked to pay the court fees.

The notice period begins when the tenant has received the notice and will have a minimum of two months to stay on the property.

Why and how are the British government looking to abolish Section 21?

No fault evictions are an arguably unfair treatment of tenants and somewhat threaten their rights to the property they rent. The government is reforming section 21 to rebalance the power in the relationship between tenant and landlord.

Living in London property

The Renters' Reform Bill will seek to stamp out section 21 and landlords' right to no-fault evictions by changing all tenancies to periodic tenancies.

Michael Gove says:

"For too long, many private renters have been at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who fail to repair homes and let families live in damp, unsafe and cold properties, with the threat of unfair 'no fault' eviction orders hanging over them. 

"Our New Deal for renters will help to end this injustice by improving the rights and conditions for millions of renters as we level up across the country and deliver on the people's priorities."

How will this affect landlords and tenants?

If the bill passes, landlords will be required to give a valid reason to the tenant for seeking to end their tenancy contract. The government has warned that landlords will face harsher penalties if there is any attempt to work around this or carry out what will be illegal no-fault evictions.

The most common eviction reasons are typically either found in a consistent string of anti-social behaviour complaints on behalf of the tenant or the tenant is in rent arrears. Both are valid and legal reasons to evict, as a tenant who can neither reasonably care for, nor pay for, the property should not have the right to continue living there.

As a periodic tenancy, the length of the tenancy will be fixed and can be reissued on a rolling basis; therefore can continue for any length of time.

When will the changes set out by the renter's reform bill come into effect?

The government is yet to announce when this change will come into force; however, once this has been decided, they will provide six months' notice before the first transition stage. 

The transition is proposed to take place in two steps, the first will focus on new tenancies under the new system, and the second will work to transition existing tenancies, with a years gap between them.

Will the PM's and Housing Minister's resignation affect the reform to Section 21?

Following Boris Johnson's announcement of an intended resignation and, in turn, Micheal Gove's resignation as Housing Minister, there will be questions surrounding the future of the Renters Reform Bill.

No matter which new captain is selected to steer the Tory ship, the government will want to ensure the preservation of this bill as it acts as a positive response to the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Whilst Boris Johnson stays in office until a new leader is elected, it is unlikely that any new policies will be made effective. However, over the past few years, with a consistent change of leadership in the Prime Minister and Housing Minister, the civil service will undoubtedly accustomed to the challenges a change of leadership presents. The acceleration of the bill to be written into law is currently undetermined.

Equity in access to property

What other housing issues does the Renter's Reform white paper seek to resolve?

This landmark white paper not only seeks to set aflame section 21 evictions and banish them to the annals of housing history but also addresses several other issues surrounding the power imbalance that plagues the relationship between landlords and tenants.

These include the right to have a pet, the end of arbitrary rent reviews, inclusivity and fair assessment of all tenants with or without children or tenants that receive benefits, extended notice periods for rental price hikes and more power granted to local councils.

Homeppl commends the intention of equalising the power imbalance that has existed up to now as it correlates directly with our core values. We strive for financial inclusion by offering more advanced tenant checks that go further than examining just a UK credit file. Our guarantor service for people on benefits, students and internationals makes it easier for tenants to gain access to UK rentals.

We have a detailed blog on the renter's reform bill for further information.

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