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Three misunderstanding about tenants rights when a section 21 notice is served on them

Section 21 noticeThere are quite a few misunderstandings about tenants rights and what tenants are or are not entitled to do when a section 21 notice is served on them.

Here are the three most common ones:

1. The section 21 notice will end the tenancy

Actually it doesn’t.  The tenancy will carry on after the expiry of the notice.

What the notice means is that if the landlord then goes to court, the Judge MUST (assuming the paperwork is correct) grant an order for possession.

2. The tenant must move out at the end of the notice period

No!  The tenant has the right to stay in the property until evicted by the court.

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it clear that tenants can only be evicted after a court order for possession has been granted AND only by the court bailiffs (ie if the tenants fail to move out voluntarily).

So they do not have to move out.

3. The tenant does not have to carry on paying rent

This is rather an optimistic view held by some tenants which is COMPLETELY unfounded. Of course tenants must pay their rent!

The fact that that landlord has asked them to leave does not mean that they are suddenly entitled to live in the property rent free.

So what should a tenant do if they have a section 21 notice served on them?

  • Check to see if their deposit has been protected – if it has not, the notice will probably be invalid
  • Speak to the landlord.  Does the landlord actually want you to go?  Often these notices are served as a precautionary measure and the landlord does not actually want the tenants to leave
  • Get legal advice.  If the notice is incorrectly drafted it will probably be invalid
  • If the landlord has confirmed he wants you to go and if the notice is correctly drafted – start looking for somewhere else to live.  Or if you are eligible for re-housing – speak to the homelessness officer at your Local Authority.

Note that if your landlord has actually issued possession proceedings – you may find my guide here helpful.

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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

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

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