If you get a section 21 notice
If you get a section 21 notice, it’s the first step your landlord has to take to make you leave your home. You won’t have to leave your home straight away.
If your section 21 notice is valid, your landlord will need to go to court to evict you.
You might be able to challenge your eviction and stay longer in your home.
You might have to pay court costs if you decide to challenge your eviction. You should make sure you have a good case before you decide to go to court.
When you can get a section 21 notice
Your landlord doesn’t need a reason for giving you a section 21 notice - for example, they might just want to move back into the property.
You can only get a section 21 notice if you have an assured shorthold tenancy. If you’re not sure what type of tenancy you have, use Shelter’s tenancy checker to find out.
If your landlord gives you a section 21 notice and you don't have an assured shorthold tenancy, your notice won't be valid. You'll be able to challenge your eviction and stay in your home.
You don’t have to sign a section 21 notice to prove you’ve received it - even if your landlord asks you to.
Your landlord could give you a section 8 notice as well as a section 21 notice. You might get a section 8 notice if you have rent arrears, for example.
If you get a section 8 notice, don’t ignore it. You’ll need to deal with it as well as your section 21 notice - and the steps are different.
Check your section 21 notice is valid
The first thing you should do is check your section 21 notice is valid. If it isn't, you might be able to challenge it and stay in your home.
If your deposit hasn't been protected
If your landlord didn’t protect your deposit or they protected it late, your section 21 notice won’t be valid - unless they’ve already given your deposit back to you.
The date your deposit had to be protected by depends on when it was paid and when your tenancy started. Check if you're not sure whether your landlord protected your deposit.
Your landlord might also have to pay you compensation if they didn't protect your deposit. Read more about taking your landlord to court if your deposit isn't protected.
Not all deposits need to be protected. Your deposit doesn't need to be protected for example if you're a lodger.
If you didn't get information about your deposit
Your section 21 notice won’t be valid if your landlord didn’t give you certain details about your deposit before giving you the notice. These details are known as ‘prescribed information’.
Prescribed information includes:
- details about the deposit protection scheme they used
- your landlord's contact details
- how to get your deposit back when you leave
- a signed statement from your landlord saying the information is accurate
Not all deposits need to be protected. Your deposit doesn't need to be protected for example if you're a lodger.
If your section 21 notice has a mistake on it
Your section 21 notice might not be valid if your landlord has made mistakes on it, for example if they’ve spelt your name wrong or put the wrong date.
Check your section 21 notice to make sure your name and address are correct. You should also check the name and contact details of your landlord or letting agent are correct.
If you live in a house that needs a licence
Your section 21 notice might not be valid if you live in a house that needs a licence and your landlord doesn't have one.
Your home might need a licence for example if you live in a shared house, bedsit or hostel.
Your council might have extra laws about what types of properties should be licensed. You can ask your local council if you’re not sure whether your home needs a licence.
If your landlord didn't use form 6A
Your section 21 notice will only be valid if your landlord used form 6A or gave you a letter with the same information. They must also have used the right version of the form. The right version depends on when notice was served to end the tenancy. You can see the current version of form 6A on GOV.UK.
If your landlord says they’ve followed guidance that says they don’t need to use form 6A, you should talk to an adviser.
If your landlord doesn't go to court in time
If your tenancy started after 1 October 2015
Your landlord can’t evict you if they don’t start the court process within 6 months of giving you the section 21 notice. If your landlord still wants to evict you, they’ll need to give you a new section 21 notice.
If your tenancy started before 1 October 2015
If your landlord gave you the section 21 notice before 1 October 2018, your notice might still be valid even if they haven’t gone to court within 6 months. Your nearest Citizens Advice can help you find out if the notice is valid or not.
If you have a fixed term tenancy
You’ll have a fixed term tenancy if it has a definite start and end date.
Your section 21 notice won't be valid if you got it within the first 4 months of the start of your original tenancy. You won’t need to leave before your fixed term ends - unless there’s a break clause. For example if you get a section 21 notice 4 months into a 12-month fixed term, you won’t have to leave until the fixed term ends.
You might have a ‘replacement tenancy’ if you and your landlord agree a new tenancy on your home after your fixed term ends. Your notice might be valid within the first 4 months of a replacement tenancy if you got it at least 4 months after the start of your original tenancy.
If you have a break clause
Either you or your landlord can end your tenancy early if you have a break clause.
If your landlord uses a break clause and gives you a section 21 notice, you might have to leave your home before the end of the fixed term.
You can find the details of your break clause in your tenancy agreement.
It will say how you or your landlord can end the tenancy early. For example, it might say you can give notice after 12 months of a 24 month tenancy. You or your landlord have to follow what the break clause says to end the tenancy legally. If your landlord wants you to move out, they also need to give you a section 21 notice.
If you have a contractual periodic tenancy
You’ll have a contractual periodic tenancy if:
- your tenancy has been rolling from the beginning, usually from month to month
- your original tenancy agreement makes it clear it’ll become a rolling tenancy when the fixed term has ended
- you signed a new rolling tenancy agreement after your original tenancy expired
Your section 21 notice won't be valid if you got it within the first 4 months of the start of your tenancy.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you're not sure what type of tenancy you have or how long your tenancy period is.
If your landlord didn't give you the right documents
If your tenancy started after 1 October 2015, your section 21 notice is only valid if your landlord has already given you:
- a gas safety certificate dated no more than 12 months before they gave it to you
- an energy performance certificate
- an up to date version of the 'How to Rent' guide
You might have got these documents when your tenancy started or was renewed. New versions of the How to Rent guide were published on:
- 21 July 2021
- 10 December 2020
- 7 August 2019
- 31 May 2019
- 6 July 2018
- 26 June 2018
- 17 January 2018
- 1 February 2016
- 1 October 2015
You can read the 'How to rent' guide on GOV.UK.
If you're being evicted because you've complained
There are extra rules that might protect you from being evicted if you've complained to your landlord or asked for repairs. Read more about what to do if you're being evicted for asking for repairs.
If your landlord charged fees during your contract
You might be able to challenge your eviction if you paid your landlord any fees. Your landlord can only charge you:
- your rent and utility bills
- a damage deposit
- a holding deposit (up to 1 weeks rent)
- a fee for losing your key or key fob
- a fee for paying your rent 14 days late or more (this has to be written in your tenancy agreement)
- a fee for a change to the tenancy that you asked for
- a fee for ending your tenancy early
- council tax
- a TV licence
If your landlord charged you for anything else, contact your nearest Citizens Advice - they could help you challenge your eviction.
If your landlord asked you for a deposit of more than 5 weeks' rent
Your landlord can only charge a maximum of 5 weeks’ rent for security deposits (or up to 6 weeks’ if your total annual rent is over £50,000).
If your landlord charged you too much and hasn’t given it back, contact your nearest Citizens Advice - they could help you challenge your eviction.
Check how much notice you've been given
Your section 21 notice won’t be valid if you haven’t been given enough notice. The amount of notice you should get will depend on when you got your section 21 notice.
If you got your section 21 notice on or after 1 October 2021, your landlord should have given you 2 months’ notice.
If you got your section 21 notice before 26 March 2020, your landlord should have given you 2 months' notice.
If you got your section 21 notice between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2021 there were special rules because of coronavirus. Your landlord might have had to give you extra notice. The rules were different depending on when you got the notice.
If you got the notice between 26 March and 28 August 2020
Your landlord had to give you 3 months’ notice.
If you got the notice between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 2021
Your landlord had to give you 6 months’ notice.
If you got the notice between 1 June and 30 September 2021
Your landlord had to give you 4 months’ notice.
If you had a periodic tenancy with a period of 6 months or more, your landlord had to give you 6 months’ notice.
If your landlord hasn’t given you enough notice
You could tell them that your section 21 notice isn’t valid. Your landlord might then give you a new notice if they want you to leave - giving you more time to stay in your home.
You should make sure your new notice is valid.
If your section 21 notice is valid
Your landlord can’t make you leave your home unless they’ve gone to court to get a possession order and a warrant for eviction - this means they can use court bailiffs to evict you. If they try to force you to leave before this, it’s an illegal eviction - you can talk to an adviser for help to challenge it.
Your landlord can only go to court after the date the section 21 notice says you have to leave.
If you’ve got a good relationship with your landlord, it might be worth asking them if you can stay in your home for longer. Send a letter to your landlord explaining your situation and keep a copy of any reply you get.
When your landlord goes to court, you might be able to ask the court to let you stay in your home for longer. You’ll need to get papers from the court before you can ask to stay in your home for longer.
If you decide to leave your home
Don’t leave your home before the date on your section 21 notice if you haven’t found somewhere else to live.
You can ask your local council for help as soon as you get a section 21 notice - they might be able to:
help you stay in your home
find somewhere else for you to live
Check if you can apply for help as someone who’s homeless or will soon be homeless.
Keep paying your rent
It’s important that you keep paying your rent until the day your tenancy ends. If you're leaving and you've paid all your agreed rent, ask your landlord to write to you confirming that your tenancy has ended and you’ve paid everything you owe. Both you and your landlord should sign it.
If you don’t pay your rent, your landlord could take you to court to get back any unpaid rent you owe. They could also refuse to give you a reference or give you a bad one, which could make finding another home difficult.
If your section 21 isn't valid
You’ll be able to stay in your home and challenge your eviction if your landlord hasn’t given you a valid section 21 notice.
Your landlord will have to give you a new, valid notice if they still want you to leave your home.
Talk to an adviser if your section 21 notice isn’t valid and you’re not sure what to do next.
You might be able to challenge your eviction if your section 21 notice isn't valid or your landlord made a mistake with the procedure. This is called 'defending possession'.
You'll need to wait until you get papers from the court before you can challenge your eviction.
If you get court papers
If you don’t leave your home by the date on your section 21 notice - for example because you want to challenge it - you’ll get papers from the court.
The papers will include a copy of the form your landlord filled in when they started the claim – this is called the ‘claim form’.
The papers will also include a form to tell the court if you disagree with what the landlord has said – this is called a “defence form”.
You’ll get the court papers because your landlord is taking action to make you leave your home. This is known as starting a ‘possession claim’. The court will then decide whether you need to leave your home.
If your landlord starts a possession claim
You might have to pay your landlord’s court costs if your landlord starts a possession claim. Court costs can be expensive.
You might be able to get legal aid to help you with your case, for example if you’re on a low income or get benefits.
If you get legal aid, you might get protection from paying your landlord’s costs if you can’t afford them.
Write down why you’re challenging the eviction
You can challenge your section 21 notice if for example:
- you weren’t given enough notice
- your deposit wasn’t protected
Talk to an adviser before you challenge your eviction.
What you need to do is different if your landlord’s using the accelerated procedure – check if it says ‘accelerated procedure’ at the top of the claim form.
If your landlord is using the accelerated procedure
Use the defence form that came with the court papers to give your reasons for challenging your section 21 notice. You can also find a copy of the defence form on GOV.UK – it’s called form N11B.
If you disagree with something the landlord said in the claim form, you should explain this in your defence form. The court might decide to have a court hearing to decide who is right.
If your landlord isn’t using the accelerated procedure
You can use the defence form that came with the court papers to give your reasons for challenging your eviction. You can also find a copy of the defence form on GOV.UK – it’s called form N11.
If you find it difficult to use the defence form, write what you want to say on a piece of paper instead. Write your case number on the piece of paper – you can find your case number on the claim form.
It's best to give as much detail as possible – the court will look at what you say to decide whether you can stay in your home.
You can find the date of the court hearing on the claim form sent to you in your court papers. The date of the hearing should be within 8 weeks of the court sending you the papers.
If your landlord wins you’ll usually have to pay the costs of your landlord going to court. If the court decides you should pay the costs, you’ll usually have to pay them within 14 days of the court hearing.
You should say in your defence if you will need to pay the court costs over a longer time - for example by making a smaller payment every month. Answer the questions about your income and spending and explain why you’ll need longer to pay.
If you think your landlord has discriminated against you
If your landlord has treated you unfairly because of who you are, you might be able to defend your eviction. For example, they might be evicting you because you’re gay, or because they don’t want to make changes for your disability.
Check if your problem counts as discrimination to find out whether you can add it to your eviction defence.
If the reason you're being evicted is connected to your disability
You might be able to challenge the eviction. For example if you’re being evicted for rent arrears, but the reason you got into rent arrears was because your learning difficulty made it hard to follow your landlord’s payment policy.
You might be able to defend your eviction using discrimination law..
If you're being evicted because you complained about discrimination before
This could be a type of discrimination called victimisation. You might be able to defend your eviction using discrimination law - check if your housing problem is discrimination.
Delaying the date you’ll need to leave
If the court issues a possession order, the order will usually say you need to leave your home within 14 days.
You should use the form to explain why leaving within 14 days could cause you 'exceptional hardship' - for example if you have a serious illness or disability. You should do this even if your section 21 notice is valid. If your landlord doesn’t agree to this, the court might arrange a hearing to decide if you can stay longer.
If the court agrees that leaving your home would cause you exceptional hardship, they could delay the date you’ll need to leave by up to 6 weeks (42 days).
Send your defence to the court
You should send your defence to the court within 14 days - the address will be on the form. It’s worth keeping a copy for your records.
You should still send your defence if you miss the deadline. The court might still consider it if they haven’t made a decision yet.
If you have a court hearing, you should still go - even if you haven’t sent your defence. It's more likely you'll be able to stay in your home if you do.
Check what happens after you send your defence
The process is different if your landlord’s using the accelerated procedure – check if it says ‘accelerated procedure’ at the top of the claim form.
If your landlord is using the accelerated procedure
Your landlord can ask the court to make a decision 14 days after the court papers were sent. Your defence will be considered by the court if you get the form to them in time. The court's judge will do one of the following:
- issue a possession order – this means that you’ll have to leave your home
- give you a date to go to court – this is called a possession hearing
- dismiss the case - this means you can stay in your home
The court will usually only arrange a hearing or dismiss a case if there’s a problem with your landlord’s paperwork, or your landlord made a mistake following the procedure.
If you have a possession hearing, you'll get a letter telling you when and where the hearing is.
If your landlord isn’t using the accelerated procedure
You’ll be sent a date for a court hearing. The date of the hearing should be within 8 weeks of the court sending you the papers. You can find the date of the court hearing on the claim form sent to you in your court papers.
Preparing for your possession hearing
Read all the documents you've been given by the court and your landlord. Take any evidence you have to the court, for example:
- a letter or email from the 3 tenancy deposit schemes showing that your deposit wasn’t protected or protected late
- a letter from your local council saying that the property isn’t licensed if it should be
- a letter from your GP saying that you would suffer exceptional hardship if you have to leave within 14 days
The evidence you have will depend on your case.
You'll be able to take someone with you for support, for example a friend or family member. They might not be able to speak for you in court.
If you can’t go to the possession hearing, tell the court as soon as possible. Explain why you can’t go – for example because you have to self-isolate. The court might:
- arrange for the hearing to happen by phone or video call
- change the date of the hearing
Coronavirus - wearing a face mask or covering at court
When you go to the court in person, you’ll have to wear a mask or covering for your mouth and nose. If you don’t wear one, you won’t be allowed in the building. Some people don’t have to wear one – check who doesn’t have to wear a mask or face covering on GOV.UK.
Getting legal help
You can get a lawyer to represent you in court. If you’ve got no income or a low income, you might be able to get legal aid to help you with the cost. Find out if you can get help with legal costs on GOV.UK.
On the day of the hearing, you’ll be able to talk to a free legal adviser called a ‘duty adviser’ – it doesn’t matter how much income you have. Before the date of the possession hearing, read the letters from the court and make sure you know how to contact the duty adviser on the day of the hearing.
If you can’t contact the duty adviser on the day of the hearing, tell the usher or the judge before the hearing starts – the judge might agree to delay the hearing.
Talk to an adviser to find out what legal advice you can get.
Getting a decision from court
You'll be told by the court if you can stay in your home or if you'll have to leave.
If you have a court hearing, you'll be told the decision at the hearing. If you don't have a court hearing, the court will send a letter telling you their decision.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you get a possession order.
If you have to leave
You normally won't have to leave your home straight away. You'll get a notice from the court telling you when you’re supposed to leave. This is called an 'outright possession order'.
You'll usually be given 14 days to leave, but it could be longer.
You can appeal against the decision of the possession order, but only if you can prove that mistakes were made in the possession hearing. For example, if the court didn't look at relevant information or used the wrong law.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think the court should look at your case again.
If the court accepts your defence, they could decide to dismiss your landlord's case. This means you'll stay in your home without any conditions.
If you don’t leave your home
Speak with one of our advisers
Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice straight away if you've been told bailiffs are coming to your home.
Your landlord will have to get an eviction warrant from the court if you don't leave your home by the date on the possession order. This means they can ask the court to send ‘enforcement officers’ to make you leave.
Enforcement officers are also known as bailiffs. Bailiffs are employed by the court to help landlords get their property back.
In most cases, a County Court bailiff will enforce an eviction. They must give you a notice with the date and time of your eviction. This is called a ‘notice of eviction’. Your landlord could ask the High Court to send bailiffs as this is usually quicker. Both County Court and High Court bailiffs must give you the notice at least 14 days before they evict you.
Bailiffs shouldn't evict you if you:
have symptoms of coronavirus or test positive for coronavirus
are waiting for a coronavirus test result
were told to self-isolate by the NHS or you have to quarantine for travel
If you're in one of these situations, you should tell the court and the bailiffs - their contact details will be on the notice of eviction. They’ll arrange another time to evict you - they have to give you another 7 days’ notice.
If your landlord forces you to leave without an eviction warrant
This is likely to be an illegal eviction if your landlord makes you leave by:
changing the locks
stopping you using part of your home
threatening or physically harassing you to leave
turning off the water or energy supply
If this happens you should report it to the police.