Section 21 eviction

Challenging a section 21 notice in court

You can usually get free legal advice if you're facing eviction.

You can speak to a duty adviser by phone on the day of a review or in person at the hearing if the court arranges one.

It's best to get advice as soon as you get a notice.

Check your notice is valid

The court can only stop the eviction if there's a problem with the section 21.

Check for things that could make your section 21 notice invalid.

Ask an adviser or the council to check your section 21 notice if you think there's a problem.

If your section 21 is valid

The court must make a possession order when the judge looks at your case. You may have to pay the costs of court action and eviction.

You should look for somewhere else to live but your tenancy rights continue until you leave voluntarily or are evicted through the legal process.

Dealing with the court paperwork

You will get letters and forms from the court. Keep them together in a file.

Check if it's the accelerated procedure

There won't always be a hearing with this procedure. The judge can make a decision based on the information on the claim form and the defence form.

Your landlord is using the accelerated procedure if you receive:

Your landlord is using standard proceedings if you receive:

Return your defence form within 2 weeks

Get legal help with the defence form.

You should explain why you don't think the notice is valid. The court can't usually stop the process for other reasons.

It's very important to return your defence form with the accelerated procedure so the judge can decide if a hearing is needed.

Check when and where the hearing is

With standard possession proceedings, there is always a hearing.

The court will usually set the date and time of the hearing when they send out the paperwork.

It should be 4 to 8 weeks later although there might be delays due to the pandemic.

The court hearing

A possession hearing will usually be at your local county court.

Some hearings are being held by videocall or in different buildings during the pandemic.

You should always attend or let the court know if there's a very good reason why you can't. For example, sudden and serious ill health.

Review dates

Until 1 November 2021 the court had to arrange a review date 4 weeks before a possession hearing under coronavirus rules.

This is no longer required but some courts might continue to schedule review dates.

Get legal help on the day

A court duty adviser can give legal help on the day of a hearing or on a review date.

The court paperwork should tell you how to contact the court duty scheme.

Still try to get legal advice before the hearing if you can.

The court decision

A judge makes a decision at the hearing, or by looking at the information they have.

The judge must:

  • make an outright possession order - if the notice is valid

  • dismiss the case - if the notice is not valid

  • give directions - if they need more information or another hearing

If the judge makes an order

An outright possession order sets a 'date for possession'.

This is not the same as an eviction date. But it is the date the court orders you to leave by.

It will usually be 2 weeks after the order is made. You can ask the court to delay the possession date for up to 6 weeks if it would cause you hardship to leave sooner.

If you don't leave by the date for possession, your landlord can ask bailiffs to evict you.

You can apply to set aside a possession order made under the accelerated procedure if you can show that the section 21 notice was not valid.

You must do this within 2 weeks of getting a copy of the order.

If the judge dismisses the case

Your landlord may be able to start the eviction process again. They may be able to give you a new section 21 notice or use a different type of notice called a section 8 notice.

If you miss your hearing

You may be able to get a possession order set aside if you:

  • apply quickly

  • can show that there may be a problem with the section 21 notice

  • had a good reason for not attending, such as sudden or serious illness

If you disagree with a court decision

You can appeal to a higher judge called a circuit judge if you think that the judge who looked at your case got it wrong. For example, if they said the section 21 notice was valid and you don't think it was.

Where to get legal advice

A housing adviser or solicitor can:

  • check your notice

  • help with court forms

  • make you aware of any risks or costs involved

Last updated: 15 November 2021

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