Section 21 eviction

How long a section 21 eviction takes

You don't have to leave when you get a section 21 notice.

There are 3 stages to eviction:

  1. notice period

  2. court action by your landlord

  3. eviction by bailiffs

Your landlord can only apply to court after the notice period has ended. 

The courts are open during lockdown and dealing with eviction cases. It's important to read any letters from the court and attend the hearing if there is one.

Bailiffs can't carry out section 21 evictions until after 31 May due to the lockdown.

Get advice during this time

You may be able to get free legal advice with all stages of the process.

You can also ask your council for help before your landlord starts court action.

The council must help if you can't afford to stay in your home, or if the date on your section 21 notice is less than 8 weeks away.

1. Notice period

The notice period runs from the date your landlord gives you a section 21 notice until the date on the notice.

Notice periods have been temporarily extended because of coronavirus.

When you were given noticeMinimum notice period
On or after 29 August 20206 months
Between 26 March and 28 August 20203 months
Before 26 March 20202 months

2. Court action by your landlord

Your landlord can start court action as soon as the notice period ends.

If they still want you to leave, they must apply within 4 months of the date on the notice.

The notice is no longer valid if they don't apply to court within this time.

The total time for the court process could vary from a few weeks to several months.

It could take longer than before the coronavirus outbreak depending on:

  • how busy the court is

  • if a hearing is needed

  • how quickly your landlord acts

Your landlord may be able to restart a case that was put on hold between March and August 2020. You will get a 'reactivation notice' if this happens.

How long until the court looks at your case

Courts are dealing with some cases before others.

You may be closer to a decision on your case if your landlord:

  • uses the accelerated procedure

  • started court action before coronavirus restrictions were introduced

The court must make a possession order if the section 21 notice is valid.

Always return your defence form if your landlord uses the 'accelerated procedure' as there won't automatically be a hearing.

The defence form is your chance to tell the court anything they should know. For example, if your section 21 notice is invalid.

Find out more about the court process.

3. Eviction by bailiffs

The date for possession is on the court order. It's usually 2 to 6 weeks after the court makes the order.

The date for possession is not the same as an eviction date.

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

At the moment all section 21 evictions by bailiffs are on hold until after 31 May 2021 due to coronavirus restrictions.

When evictions restart, the time for this stage will vary depending on:

  • the type of bailiffs used

  • how busy the bailiffs are

Most landlords use county court bailiffs but they might use high court bailiffs, also known as high court enforcement officers (HCEOs).

Before the coronavirus outbreak it took around 7-10 weeks on average from a landlord applying for county court bailiffs until the eviction date.

It could be much quicker than this if your landlord uses high court enforcement.

Bailiffs and HCEOs must give you at least 2 weeks' notice of the eviction date.

Last updated: 10 March 2021

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