Section 21 Notice (Accelerated Possession)

Last reviewed 6th December 2023 - update to FAQ due to gas safety judgements in county court

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What is a Section 21 notice?

When you have entered into an assured shorthold tenancy with your tenant, you may recover possession of the property from them by using the notice procedure set out in Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. It is not available to any other form of tenancy agreement.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, serving a Section 21 notice was the most common way for landlords to begin the process of ending a tenancy. This was because the route to possession is simpler than serving a Section 8 notice as it does not require you attend a court hearing. It also does not require you to provide a reason why you are seeking possession. However there are a number of procedural requirements that you must have complied with if you wish to use this type of notice to regain possession of a property.

This page contains a number of resources to ensure NRLA members can confidently seek possession. Along with detailed guidance on completing the form, the page provides information on the requirements before service and answers a number of frequently asked questions about Section 21 notices.

Renters (Reform) Bill and the end of Section 21 notices

The Government has now committed to removing Section 21 notices in the future. This will be done through the Renters (Reform) Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament.

The government has now committed to removing Section 21 once the courts are sufficiently reformed.  As a result, it is not entirely clear when Section 21 notices will be removed in England. In the meantime, you may continue to serve Section 21 notices provided you have met all of the requirements in this guide.

The removal of Section 21 is not the only change that will be made by the Renter's (Reform) Bill. The bill will make fairly significant changes to tenancy agreements, deposits and grounds based possession. It will also see the introduction of a property portal where landlords must register, and a new redress scheme that landlords must sign up to. For further information see our renters reform FAQ.

Section 21 (Form 6a)

For landlords in England, the Government produces a prescribed form (Form 6a) that must be used whenever you are seeking possession via Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. It is available on the Government's website.

Please note that a new form was published on 1 October 2021. Landlords must use this new form for all Section 21 notices served on or after 1 October 2021. Using an old form can invalidate your notice, forcing you to restart the whole possession process again.

Section 21 (Form 6a) link

What software should I use to fill out this document?

The Section 21 form on the is an Open Office (.odt) document. This means there are a number of options available for you to use.

For PC or Android users, either the free Open Office software or Microsoft Word can open these files without issue.

For Apple users, some members are reporting difficulties opening the Section 21 form when using Apple products. This could potentially be because of the software used to open the file. If you are encountering difficulties opening the files, the best software to use is either OOreader or Office for Mac.

Completion notes for serving the Section 21 (form 6a)

Members only

Making a mistake when filling out the Section 21 notice can be an intensely frustrating experience for landlords and agents. Often the first time a landlord will find out they have made a mistake on the form is months later when they are refused possession because of the error.

To help minimise the risk of rejection, the NRLA has produced some completion instructions for our members. These instructions provide guidance on completing and serving the form and how to ensure sufficient evidence of correct service.

We have also produced detailed guidance for our members on the requirements that must be met before serving a Section 21 notice as well as answering a number of frequently asked questions about the use of a Section 21 notice.

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