Section 21 eviction

Staying after a section 21 notice

Your tenancy continues if you stay after a section 21 notice until you either:

  • agree to leave voluntarily

  • are evicted through the legal process

Most private tenancies end through agreement with the landlord rather than eviction.

Some landlords assume that their tenants will leave at the end of a section 21 notice.

Let your landlord or agent know if you intend to stay past the end of the notice to avoid any confusion.

Keep paying rent.

Only agree a move out date if you have somewhere else to live. For example, if you sign a tenancy agreement for a new home.

Your rights after a section 21

You have rights even if you owe rent or your landlord starts court action.

You have the right to live in the property undisturbed.

Your landlord's responsibilities continue, including their duty to carry out repairs.

If your tenancy agreement says you should allow access for viewings by future tenants, the landlord or agent can only enter your home with your permission and at a reasonable time.

Ending your tenancy legally

You may need to end your tenancy legally even if you're willing to move out.

Communicate by post or email. Be clear about when you want the tenancy to end.

You're responsible for rent until the tenancy ends, even if you move out earlier.

Your landlord should be flexible if they want you to leave without court action.

Giving notice to your landlord

If you cannot agree on a tenancy end date, you can usually end your tenancy by giving notice.

Only give notice under a break clause or with a 'notice to quit' if you're sure you want to leave by the date in the notice.

Your landlord will not need a court order to end your tenancy if you give them a valid notice.

Signing documents with a date for you to leave

Do not sign documents that could end your rights to stay in your home if you are not ready to move.

Be extra careful when asked to sign documents that might look official or legal.

If you do sign but decide to stay beyond the date on the document, your tenancy will not end unless you've given your landlord a valid notice or signed a legal deed of surrender.

A deed of surrender will only meet legal requirements if:

  • you and your landlord sign it

  • both signatures are witnessed

  • it makes it clear that it's intended to be a deed that ends your tenancy immediately

Do not sign anything labelled 'deed of surrender' or 'express surrender' unless you are ready to give up your tenancy and leave without a court order. 

If you cannot find anywhere else to rent

Do not move out if you've nowhere to move to.

It's usually better to stay in your tenancy until you've found somewhere to live. You can ask the council for help with this.

If you want to move in with friends or family, check how long you can stay before giving up your tenancy.

The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you ask for help after leaving a tenancy when you had the right to stay there. This affects the help you get.

If you have rent arrears

Do not feel pressured into moving out even if you have rent arrears, especially if you have nowhere to move to.

Look at all options to get help with your rent first.

Your landlord might not apply to court if you can make a repayment plan.

If your rent is no longer affordable, for example, because of a job loss or relationship breakdown, it might not be reasonable for you to stay there in the longer term.

Look for somewhere cheaper to rent. You can ask the council for help with this.

Homeless help from the council

You can ask the council for help as soon as you get a section 21 notice.

You're threatened with homelessness if it is a valid notice that ends in the next 8 weeks.

The council must take steps to prevent you becoming homeless, as long as you meet the immigration and residence conditions.

For example, the council could:

  • help you find somewhere else to live

  • provide a loan or grant to pay off rent arrears

  • ask your landlord to stop or delay eviction action

If you cannot afford to stay in your home

The council might tell you to stay in your home until your landlord gets a court order, or even until the bailiffs come.

They may say you will be intentionally homeless if you leave early.

This may feel unfair, especially if you will end up with rent arrears or court costs to pay off.

It's still best to stay in your home until the council has accepted that you cannot afford to stay and helped you find somewhere else to live.

If your landlord starts court action

Your landlord can start court action once the date on the section 21 notice has passed.

The costs of an eviction can be at least £500. You may have to pay for the costs of the eviction if the notice is valid.

Ask the council for help with the costs if they say you must stay.

You or the council should ask your landlord to delay court action if you're looking for somewhere else to live.

If the section 21 notice is invalid, you can challenge the eviction in court. If the judge dismisses the case, you can stay in your home and will not have to pay court costs.

Your landlord might serve a new notice to start the process again.

Last updated: 30 May 2022

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