Section 21 eviction

How long a section 21 eviction takes

Coronavirus update

From 21 September the courts start to deal with evictions again.

From 29 August all section 21 notices must give at least 6 months' notice.

Your landlord can't start court action until your notice period ends.

It takes several months from getting a valid notice until an eviction can take place.

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

Your landlord must apply to court if they still want you to leave.

Only bailiffs can carry out a legal eviction.

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.

Time for each stage of the process

There are 3 main steps to a section 21 eviction.

1. Notice period

The total time for this stage depends on when you received your notice.

Notice periods have been temporarily extended because of coronavirus.

When you were given notice Minimum notice period
On or after 29 August 2020 6 months
Between 26 March and 28 August 2020 3 months
Before 26 March 2020 2 months

2. Court action by your landlord

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
  • the reasons for eviction
  • how quickly your landlord acts

Your landlord must start court action within 3 to 4 months of the date on the notice, depending when you got your notice.

The notice is no longer valid if they don't apply to court within this time. 

Your landlord can also apply to restart a case that was on hold. You will get a 'reactivation notice' if this happens. 

Courts are dealing with some cases before others. You may be closer to a decision on your case if:

  • you got a valid notice before 29 August
  • your landlord started court action before or during the eviction ban
  • you have serious rent arrears or are being evicted because of antisocial behaviour

The court decision

A judge makes a decision at a hearing, or by looking at the information they have from you and your landlord.

Always return your defence form if your landlord uses the 'accelerated procedure'. There won't automatically be a hearing so the defence form is your chance to tell the court anything they should know. For example, if your section 21 notice is invalid.

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

The date for possession is usually 2 to 6 weeks after the order is made.

Find out more about the court process.

3. Eviction by bailiffs

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

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 7-10 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 18 September 2020 | © Shelter

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