I blogged in December about the future abolition of Section 21 Notices (Goodbye to Section 21).
For now, though, you can still use the Section 21 process to get possession. Here are three key things you should know about serving a valid Section 21 Notice:
1. The Devil is in the Detail
They say don’t sweat the small stuff. That philosophy certainly doesn’t apply when preparing Section 21 Notices. Getting the details right can be the difference between getting a possession order and the court dismissing your claim. For example, check that the first four months of the tenancy have passed, check the notice doesn’t expire before the fixed term of the tenancy, and that you allow at least 2 months’ notice (including time for postage). Check the address and postcode of the property is right. If there’s more than one tenant at the property, ensure the names of all tenants are on the notice and prepare a notice for each tenant. Get the tenants’ names right. Use the required statutory notice (Form 6A) and include all 3 pages including the notes.
2. What Comes Before
However carefully you prepare your notice, it won’t be valid if you haven’t given your tenant the required information at the start of the tenancy. This is the How to Rent booklet, the Gas Certificate, and an EPC.
If there is a deposit, you must have protected it in a scheme and given the tenant the prescribed information.
If you failed to do those things at the start of the tenancy, seek advice before serving your notice.
If you can’t prove to the court that you served the notice properly, you might find yourself in difficulty, especially if the tenant denies all knowledge. The starting point is to read the tenancy agreement, which will sometimes state how notices must be served. If it says you must serve the notice by hand -delivery but you post it, that won’t be valid service. If the tenancy agreement is silent about methods of service, you can serve by ordinary 1st class post. However, you will need to prove to the court that you’ve posted it, and when. One way is to send one first-class and one by recorded delivery. Alternatively, ask for a certificate of posting from the post office. Whether you post or hand-deliver, you can complete a Certificate of Service court form, which the court will accept as evidence of posting.
This is only intended to cover a few key issues in the Section 21 possession claims process. Find more detailed information on residential landlord and tenant law, Negotiating the Lettings Minefield V1 and Negotiating the Lettings Minefield V2.
Contact Sarah Coates-Madden today to talk about preparation of notices seeking possession or possession proceedings.