Section 21 eviction

How long a section 21 eviction takes

You don't have to leave immediately 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 ends. 

The courts are open during coronavirus 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 carry out section 21 evictions again from 1 June.

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

When the council must help

The council must look into your situation and help if either:

  • your section 21 ends in less than 8 weeks

  • you can't afford to stay in your home

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

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 changed several times because of coronavirus.

When you were given noticeMinimum notice period
On or after 1 June 20214 months
Between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 20216 months
Between 26 March and 28 August 20203 months
Before 26 March 20202 months

Section 21 notices received before 29 August 2020 are no longer valid unless your landlord started court action within 6 months of giving you the notice.

2. Court action by your landlord

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

They have 4 months from the date on the notice to apply to court. The notice won't be valid after that date.

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

It depends on:

  • how busy the court is

  • if a hearing is needed

  • how quickly your landlord acts

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 possession order has a 'date for possession' on it. This date is usually 2 to 6 weeks after the court makes the order.

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

Your landlord can ask bailiffs to evict if you don't leave by the date for possession.

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

The total 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 to 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: 21 May 2021

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