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.
From 1 October 2018 the rules about section 21 notices have changed. We’re working to update our content. The main changes are:
your section 21 notice will only be valid for 6 months
your landlord has to give you 2 months’ notice before you have to leave your home
the notice no longer has to end on the last day of a period of the tenancy
you might be able to challenge a retaliatory eviction, whenever your tenancy started
your tenancy began before 1 October 2015 and you received a section 21 notice before 1 October 2018 that hasn’t been enforced yet
- your tenancy started before 1 October 2015 and your landlord didn't use form 6a .
your landlord gave you your notice after you complained or asked for repairs
you're not sure if your section 21 notice is valid
If you get less than 2 months' notice
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 tenancy started before 1 October 2015
Your landlord can give you a section 21 notice at any time if your tenancy started before 1 October 2015.
You won’t need to leave before your fixed term ends, for example if you have a 6-month fixed term. Your landlord can only make you leave if your tenancy has a ‘break clause’ - this means it can be ended early by either you or your landlord.
You can find the details of your break clause in your tenancy agreement.
If you have a 'contractual periodic tenancy'
Your section 21 notice must end on the last day of your tenancy period if you have a ‘contractual periodic tenancy’. This means your tenancy has been rolling from the beginning, or you agreed it would keep rolling after your fixed term ended.
For example, if your tenancy runs to the 23rd of the month, your section 21 notice must end on the 23rd of that month.
Your section 21 notice must say that your landlord is trying to make you leave your home using section 21.
If you don’t have a contractual periodic tenancy, for example if you have a fixed-term tenancy that has ended, your landlord only has to give you 2 months’ notice.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you're not sure when your tenancy started rolling.
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 giving you a section 21 notice
- use form 6a or a latter with all the same information on it you - you can find a copy of form 6a on GOV.UK
- give you the right version of the 'How to rent' guide when your contract started or ended
Check you got the right version of the 'How to rent' guide
Check the date on the guide your landlord gave you. It has to be the version that was newest on:
- the day you signed your latest contract - if the contract hasn't ended yet
- the day after your contract ended - if you haven't signed a new one
New guides were published on:
- 6 July 2018
- 26 June 2018
- 17 January 2018
- 1 February 2016
- 1 October 2015
You might be able to challenge the section 21 notice if your landlord only gave you the right version after your contact ended or you signed a new one - for example if they gave you the guide just before the section 21 notice. Ask an adviser if you can challenge the section 21 notice.
Arguing your client was given the wrong 'How to rent' guide
You might be able to argue your client's landlord gave them the wrong version if a new one was published between when your client's contract ended (or they signed a new one), and when their landlord gave them the guide.
This is because the law isn't clear about whether the landlord has to serve the latest version of the guide, or the version that was current when your client's contract changed.
Speak to a housing specialist or contact the Expert Advice Team 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 latest version before giving you a valid section 21 notice. You can check the latest version of the 'How to rent' booklet on GOV.UK.
If your landlord has given you the right documents
Even if your landlord gave you the right booklet and other documents, your section 21 notice still won't be valid if you got it in the first 4 months of your tenancy - unless you have a 'replacement' tenancy. For example, you might have a replacement tenancy if you and your landlord agree a new tenancy on your home after your fixed term ends.
If your landlord hasn’t gone to court within 6 months of giving you the section 21 notice, they can’t use the notice in court to evict you.
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 section 21 is valid
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.
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. You might be able to challenge your eviction and stay in your home.
Even if your section 21 notice is valid, 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.
If you leave your home before the date on your section 21 notice, you could be considered ‘intentionally homeless’. This could make it harder for you to get help from your local council if you need it.
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
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.