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Six essential tips on how to use a section 21 notice to evict a tenant

Six essential tipsIf you are looking to evict your tenant, the section 21 procedure is the best way to go. But it will not be available to all landlords or at all times.  Here are some tips for you to help you avoid problems:

1. You need to have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST)

Section 21 notices can ONLY be used for assured shorthold tenancies. So if you serve it where there is an unregulated tenancy such as a company let, it will be of no effect

2. You must have served a properly drafted section 21 notice

The biggest reason for possession claims being rejected by the court is an incorrectly drafted section 21 notice.

For guidance on how to do this see my Landlord Law site

3. You must be able prove service

What will you do if your tenant says he has never seen it before? (As they often do).

Make sure you can prove to the court that the notice was delivered. Delivery by hand with an independent witness is the best method if you have a difficult tenant.

If this is not possible, consider using a professional process server.

4. The fixed term of the tenancy must have ended

Notwithstanding what some people have claimed, if you start your claim before your fixed term ends, the Judge will reject your claim.

If the fixed term has not ended, your tenant is perfectly entitled to be in the property – so you will not have any basis for a claim. You can’t base a claim on the grounds that you think the tenant may not leave in a few weeks time!

There is a discussion about this here.

5. The notice period must have expired

You cannot issue proceedings before the notice has expired.

Be careful if you have used a saving clause – if you got the notice expiry date wrong, the saving clause should save you – but it may mean that your notice expiry date is later than you think.

6. You need to draft your claim for possession properly

Claims are normally brought using the special (so called) accelerated procedure. Use this if you can.

However sometimes this is not possible – for example if you have no tenancy agreement (as the accelerated procedure is paper based).

This is not fatal for your claim, you can use the standard procedure, but there will then be a court hearing.

Landlords wanting to bring their own claims will find guidance on both procedures in my Do it Yourself Eviction Kit.

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Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.

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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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