Defending Section 21

Defending Section 21

Have you been sent a Section 21 Eviction Notice by either your landlord or letting agent? Read on to discover whether if it was issued unlawfully, and if so, what to do next.

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Received a Section 21?

If you’re living in England and have received a Section 21, this page is for you. We’ll explain:

• What this really means

• Under what circumstances you can challenge the notice

• What your options are and what you can do next

What is a Section 21 notice?

A Section 21 notice is the most common way of starting the eviction process. The notice will tell you that your landlord wants you to leave the property and by what date. A Section 21 notice may also be refered to as an ‘eviction notice’, a ‘notice to quit’ or a ‘notice seeking possession’.

By law, your landlord doesn’t have to give you a reason and they can even speed up the process by using an ‘accelerated possession procedure’ if you don’t leave the property by the given date.

A possession order is an order made by a court ordering a tenant to leave their landlord’s property on a particular date.

What a Section 21 notice means for you

In essence, a Section 21 notice means your landlord has the ability to ask the courts to grant him a possession order if you haven’t vacated the property the the specified date.

A Section 21 doesn’t mean you are in the wrong. You could have been a perfect tenant but still receive an eviction notice without reason.

It also does not end your tenancy. This continues until you leave voluntarily or are evicted by the court.

It is also worth noting that a Section 21 does not mean you can stop paying your rent. This is due in full up until the day you leave the property. Failure to pay may result in your landlord refusing to give you a reference needed to secure future rental accommodation. Obviously, you can also be taken to court for any rent arrears.

Pros and cons of challenging a claim for a possession order


  • You can challenge the claim and remain in the property longer.
  • If your local council are likely to accept you as homeless and find you housing, you may wish to consider challenging the claim.



  • If you are unsuccessful, the court will order you to pay the landlord’s costs and ask you to vacate the property.
  • Even if you are successful, should your landlord start the process again and comply with the rules, you will still have to leave the property.
  • You may not get a reference for future rental applications.

Reasons you may be able to challenge your landlord’s claim for a possession order

Many assume their landlord’s know the rules and are acting lawfully. However, that is simply not true. There are a multitude of reasons for a judge to refuse a possession order, including but not limited to:

  • • You’ve been sent the wrong Section 21 notice.
  • • You’ve been a tenant for less than 4 months.
  • • You haven’t been given enough notice.
  • • You have a fixed term tenancy.
  • • The Section 21 notice has expired.
  • • You received a Section 21 notice after complaining about disrepair without response within 14 days.
  • • Your deposit has not been protected in a recognised scheme.
  • • Your landlord is not licensed.
  • • Your landlord hasn’t given you a valid gas safety record or energy performance certificate.
  • • Your landlord has not provided you with a copy of the government publication ‘how to rent’.

Remember, this list is not exhaustive and many of the reasons for refusing an order are complex. If you want legal advice, get in touch.

How to challenge your landlord’s claim for a possession order

If you want to stay in the property, your best bet is to wait for your landlord to start possession proceedings after receiving the Section 21. It is at this point your should seek legal advice.

If you challenge the Section 21 notice and your landlord’s claim for a possession order, you or your lawyer must send the court a completed defence form before the deadline.

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