Section 21 eviction


Challenging a section 21 notice in court

You can challenge a section 21 notice in court, but you risk paying legal costs if you lose.

When to challenge a section 21 notice

You can stop your eviction if you can show the section 21 notice isn't valid.  

Ask a housing or legal adviser to check your section 21 notice if you think your landlord has served an invalid notice.

How to challenge a section 21 notice

When your landlord starts court action, your landlord can use one of the two types of possession proceedings.

Accelerated possession proceedings

When your landlord uses accelerated possession proceedings, the court sends you:

Use the defence form to explain why the notice is invalid and return it to the court within 14 days.

When you return your defence form, the court either:

  • decides the case based on the information you and the landlord have provided
  • arranges a court hearing for you and your landlord

Standard possession proceedings

When your landlord uses standard possession proceedings the court sends you:

You should complete and return the defence form to explain why the section 21 notice is invalid within 14 days.

You can attend the hearing and explain why the section 21 notice is invalid even if you don’t return your defence form.

There’s a risk that you will have to pay more costs if the hearing is rearranged because you didn’t return a written defence.

Going to court

A judge considers the case at the court hearing. You can bring a solicitor or legal representative with you and any evidence to support your claim.

Most courts have a legal adviser on duty for tenants who don’t have a representative. Contact the court in advance to ask about this.

If the section 21 is invalid, the court won't grant your landlord a possession order.

Your landlord has to serve a new section 21 notice and start the process again if they still want to end your tenancy. If your landlord failed to protect your tenancy deposit or protected it after 30 days, they will have to return it to you in full.

If the notice is valid, the court gives you a date to leave your home by.

What a court case costs

If you win

Your landlord must pay the court costs if your defence is successful.

If you lose

It's likely the court will order you to pay some of your landlord's legal costs if you’re unsuccessful in your defence.

In 2017, court costs were around £600 for possession proceedings. Your landlord’s legal costs could be about £1500.

Get advice

It's important to get advice from a legal or housing adviser if you want to challenge a section 21 notice in court.

An adviser can:

  • tell you if you have a case
  • make you aware of any risks or costs involved

If you claim benefits or have a low income, you may qualify for legal aid to help pay for legal advice or representation.

Contact Civil Legal Advice to check if you're eligible or use the GOV.UK legal aid checker.

If you don't qualify for legal aid:

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone


Last updated 06 Feb 2018 | © Shelter

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