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.

But you shouldn't leave it this late. 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 several letters and forms from the court. Keep them together in a file.

This table shows the main documents you should get before a court hearing.

Letters receivedWhat this means
Claim and defence formsYour landlord has applied for a possession order.
Notice of review The court has scheduled a review date for your case.
Notice of possession hearingThe court has arranged a hearing for you to attend.

Check if it's the accelerated procedure

There won't automatically be a review or a hearing with this procedure. Instead 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:

With standard possession proceedings, there will be a review date and a hearing.

Your landlord is using standard proceedings if you receive:

  • N5 claim form

  • N11R defence form

Return your defence form within 2 weeks

Get legal help with the defence form.

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

If you can't complete the form or get help with it, court guidance says you could send a short statement to the court instead.

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

Notice of review

A notice of review tells you the date your case will be reviewed by a judge.

The review date is not a possession hearing and you don't need to attend in person.

It is a chance to get free legal advice from a court duty adviser if you've not managed to get legal advice before this.

Check the notice of review carefully for details of how to contact the court duty scheme.

Notice of possession hearing

A possession hearing will usually be 4 weeks after the review date at your local county court.

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.

Get legal advice before the possession hearing.

If you're unable to do this, you can get legal help from a court duty adviser on the day.

The notice of possession hearing tells you how to do this.

The court decision

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

The judge must:

  • make an order - if the notice is valid

  • dismiss the case - if the notice is not valid

If the judge makes an order

The judge must make an outright possession order. It 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 wasn't 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 dealt with 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: 30 September 2021

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