Section 21 validity checker
I have been served with a notice to end my tenancy. What should I do next?
If a landlord wants to evict an assured shorthold tenant they must follow the correct procedure:
- Giving the tenant a notice requiring possession; either a section 8 (s8) notice or a section 21 (s21) notice.
The landlord must give a reason for serving a s8 notice for example, nuisance or rent arrears.
No reason needs to be given for serving a section 21 (s21) notice, known as a 'no-fault' notice'.
- Once a valid notice has expired the landlord can apply to court for a possession order.
- Once the date on the possession order has past, the landlord can apply for a bailiff's warrant. The bailiff will issue a Notice of Eviction stating the time and date when you must leave the property.
If your landlord has given you a notice requiring possession you can get free advice from BHT Sussex (contact details below)
If your tenancy started before 1 October 2015 and has not been renewed after that date, please seek advice from BHT Sussex.
If your tenancy started after 1 October 2015, or you have signed a new tenancy agreement after 1 October 2015, please continue to check if your s21 notice is valid.
If your notice is invalid, you can remain in your accommodation and your landlord will need to serve a valid notice to start the eviction process.
1. Is the s21 on the correct form?
To be valid the s21 notice must be on the correct form: Form 6A
If the notice you are given does not have the same wording as Form 6A it is invalid, although minor spelling errors would not make the notice invalid.
2. Has the correct amount of notice been given?
Your landlord cannot serve a s21 notice within the first four months of you moving in. The landlord must give you a minimum of two months' notice.
The landlord must also move to the next stage of applying for a court order (possession order) within 6 months of giving you the notice.
A section 21 notice is invalid if:
- The notice period is too short or
- The landlord has not applied to court in time.
3. Has the deposit been protected?
If you paid a deposit at the start of the tenancy, a s21 notice is invalid if either:
- The deposit is not protected in a government recognised scheme
- It was not protected within 30 days after your most recent tenancy agreement started.
If either of the above apply your landlord must return your deposit before they can serve a valid s21 notice.
Your landlord should provide you with information on where your deposit has been protected. They must give you this information before they can issue a s21 notice.
You can check if your deposit has been protected at one of the three approved schemes.
You will need to know the tenancy start date, property postcode and the amount of the deposit.
4. Have you been given gas and energy certificates?
Energy Performance Certificate
Before you moved into the property the landlord should have given you an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
If your landlord did not issue you an EPC before serving a s21 notice, the notice will be invalid.
Gas Safety Record/certificate
If you have gas supplied at the property, the notice will also be invalid if your landlord has not given you a valid gas safety record (previously called a certificate) at some time before serving the s21 notice. The gas safety record has to be renewed annually and the landlord must give you a copy within 28 days of the gas safety check.
If you live in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) (see 7. Below) then your landlord can display it in the property, instead of giving you a copy.
5. Have you been given the How to Rent guide?
Your landlord should have given you a copy of the Government's How to rent: the checklist for renting in England.
A s21 is invalid if your landlord has not given you the correct version of the How to Rent guide at some time before serving the s21 notice.
6. What you can be charged for
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 states what a landlord or letting agent can charge you for.
A s21 is invalid if your landlord has taken a deposit over 5 weeks' rent, or charged you for something that is not permitted. However if your landlord returns the non-permitted charge, they can then serve a s21 notice.
A letting agent can give you a s21 notice, even if you have been overcharged or charged for something that is not permitted.
Under the Act a tenant can only be charged for the following:
- A deposit up to 5 weeks' rent
- A refundable holding deposit, up to 1 week's rent
- Interest charges for late rent payments
- Replacing lost keys
- Ending your tenancy early
- Changing the terms of your tenancy, or transferring the tenancy to someone else.
You cannot be charged for:
- Signing up with a letting agency
- Credit checks
- Drafting the tenancy agreement, or tenancy renewals
- Charges for guarantor agreements
If you think you have been charged for something that is not allowed contact BHT Sussex (formerly Brighton Housing Trust) (contact details below) for advice.
7. Houses in Multiple Occupation - HMOs
A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property occupied by more than one household.
A landlord needs to have a licence before letting out an HMO if all the following apply:
- It is rented to five or more people from more than one household, and
- Some or all of the tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities;
- At least one tenant pays rent.
If the landlord requires an HMO licence for the property but does not have one and has not applied for one, any s21 notice served will be invalid, unless they have a temporary exemption.
The HMO register for Lewes and Eastbourne Councils can be viewed online.
8. Retaliatory Notices where the Council has ordered landlord to carry out repairs
Your landlord cannot serve a s21 notice on you for six months after the Council has ordered your landlord to do repair or improvement works and served either an improvement notice or emergency remedial action notice on your landlord.
Any notice served within six months, known as a retaliatory notice, will be invalid.
If you think that a s21 notice that has been served on you is invalid because it is a retaliatory notice, contact BHT Sussex (formerly Brighton Housing Trust) (contact details below) for advice.
I have been served with a valid s21 notice, what should I do?
What you do next will depend on the reason why you have been served with the notice.
If you have been given notice because of a breach of the tenancy, for example rent arrears, you me able to negotiate with the landlord to withdraw the notice if you pay off the rent arrears. If you need advice contact BHT Sussex (formerly Brighton Housing Trust (contact details below).
If you are being evicted for rent arrears see the Rent arrears self-help guide.
If your landlord has given you notice and there is no chance of preventing your homelessness, for example, the landlord is selling the property, you will need to start looking for another place to live; see the self-help guide 'finding accommodation'.
If you apply for social housing through the housing register you are likely to wait for years before being rehoused. You will need to start looking for alternative private rented accommodation.
You are allowed to remain in the property after the date to leave on the notice. Your landlord will need to apply to the courts to get a possession order. You may be liable for costs if your landlord applies to court and you do not have a defence to the possession claim.
If you leave the property before you have to, you may be found intentionally homeless. Remaining in the property gives you more time to find alternative accommodation.
BHT Sussex (Formerly Brighton Housing Trust) - free housing advice.
Lewes District residents: Brighton Advice Centre 01273 645455.
Eastbourne residents: Eastbourne Advice Centre 01323 642615.