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.
Check how much notice you've been given
Coronavirus - your landlord must give you more notice
The government have temporarily changed the law around evictions.
If your landlord gives you an eviction notice on or after 26 March 2020, the notice period has to be at least 3 months.
Your section 21 notice won’t be valid if you haven’t been given at least 2 months’ notice.
If you have a longer tenancy period, for example where you pay your rent every 3 months, your landlord might need to give you more than 2 months’ notice. Check what kind of tenancy you have on Shelter’s website if you’re not sure.
If your landlord hasn’t given you at least 2 months’ notice - or longer if you have a longer tenancy period - 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 another 2 months to stay in your home.
You should make sure your new notice is valid.
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:
- a receipt for your deposit
- your landlord's contact details
- how to get your deposit back when you leave
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
If your landlord didn't use form 6a it might still be valid - it'll depend on when your tenancy started.
If your tenancy started after 1 October 2015
Your section 21 notice will only be valid if your landlord used the right version of form 6a or a letter with the same information. The right version depends on when notice was served to end the tenancy.
If your tenancy started before 1 October 2015
If you got your section 21 notice before 1 October 2018 it will be valid even if your landlord didn’t use form 6a. If you got your notice after 1 October 2018, get help from your nearest Citizens Advice to check if your notice is valid.
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 your client's tenancy started before 1 October 2015
It’s unclear whether the landlord needs to make a possession claim within 6 months if they make it after 1 October 2018, when they gave the section 21 notice before 1 October 2018.
You can contact our Expert Advice Team for specialist advice and support with complex cases. Log in online to send the Expert Advice Team a message.
If you're in England, you can also contact the National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) consultancy service.
National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) consultancy service
Telephone: 0300 330 0517
9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday
Sign in to NHAS for webchat and email queries
Your call is likely to be free of charge if you have a phone deal that includes free calls to landlines - find out more about calling 030 numbers.
If you have a fixed term 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.
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, for example if you get a section 21 notice 4 months into a 6-month fixed term, you won’t have to leave until it 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. The section 21 notice will be valid if the length of your original and replacement tenancies add up to at least 4 months.
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
If you have a contractual periodic tenancy, your notice has to be a minimum of 2 months, or as long as the period of your tenancy, whichever is longer. For example, if your period of tenancy runs for 3 months, your landlord needs to give you 3 months’ notice.
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 might not be valid if your landlord didn't:
give you a gas safety certificate and energy performance certificate before your contract started
make sure you have the version of the 'How to rent' guide that was most up to date when your contract started or was renewed
New guides were published on:
- 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 your landlord gave you the ‘How to rent’ guide at the same time as your section 21 notice, they might have given you the wrong version. You can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice to find out if you can challenge the section 21 notice.
If your landlord didn't give you the right version
Your section 21 notice won't be valid.
Your landlord will have to give you the right version before giving you a valid section 21 notice.
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. If you originally agreed your tenancy on or after 1 June 2019 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
You might be able to challenge your eviction if you originally paid the deposit in England on or after 1 June 2019. 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.
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 - contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help to challenge it.
Your landlord can only go to court after the date the section 21 notice says you have to leave.
Coronavirus - your landlord can’t go to court to evict you
The government have temporarily changed the law around evictions. Your landlord can’t take court action to evict you for 3 months from 27 March 2020. If your landlord hasn’t gone to court to evict you, you won’t have to leave your home yet.
Your landlord can’t evict you without a court order.
You might still have to leave if your landlord went to court before 27 March 2020 and arranged for someone to enforce the court order. This might be a bailiff or a High Court enforcement officer.
Some bailiffs or enforcement officers might decide not to work because of coronavirus. It's a good idea to contact them to check if they’re going ahead.
If you think your eviction might be going ahead you should contact your nearest Citizens Advice.
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.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice 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 you have a good reason why you shouldn't leave your home. 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.
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.
The court will send you an ‘N11B defence form’. You can use the form to give your reasons why you think you should stay in your home.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you get a letter from the court and you’re not sure what steps to take.
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.
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.
Fill in the defence form
Use the defence form to give your reasons for challenging your section 21 notice, for example if you weren’t given 2 months’ notice or your deposit wasn’t protected.
It’s a good idea to be as detailed as possible. The court will use the form to decide if you should stay in your home.
If the court decides you should pay court costs, you’ll usually have to pay them within 14 days. You can use the form to ask to pay court costs over a longer time - for example by making a smaller payment every month.
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 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 the form
You should send the form back to the court within 14 days - the address will be on the form. It’s worth keeping a copy of the form for your records.
You should still send the form if you miss the deadline. The court might still consider it.
If you have a court hearing, you should still go - even if you haven’t sent the defence form. It's more likely you'll be able to stay in your home if you do.
After you’ve sent the defence form
The court will look at the defence form. They’ll either:
issue a possession order
give you a date to go to court - this is known as a possession hearing
If you have a possession hearing, you'll get a letter telling you when and where the hearing is.
Preparing for a possession hearing
Coronavirus - if you’re going to court
Some courts are closed and others are changing the way they work, for example your hearing might happen over the phone or online.
You need to check how these changes will affect you on GOV.UK.
If the court hasn’t told you how to attend your hearing, contact them to find out. You can search for their contact details on GOV.UK.
Read all the documents you've been given by the court and your landlord. Take any evidence you have, 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.
Getting legal help
You can get a solicitor to represent you in court - you might be able to get legal aid to help you cover the cost. Find out if you can get help with legal costs on GOV.UK.
You might be able to get free legal advice on the day of the hearing. Ask the court for details of what help you can get.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice 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
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.
You'll usually be told by the bailiffs when they're coming to evict you. Your landlord could ask the high court to send bailiffs - if they do this, you might not be told they’re coming.