Section 21 eviction

Staying after a section 21 notice

Coronavirus update

The courts are dealing with evictions again.

Your landlord must still apply for an order to evict you. There is a backlog of cases and the eviction process takes time.

Bailiffs can't carry out section 21 evictions until after 31 May 2021 due to the lockdown.

Tenancy rights after a section 21

Your tenancy continues if you stay past the end of a section 21 notice until you either:

  • leave the property voluntarily

  • are evicted through the legal process

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

You should pay rent for as long as your tenancy continues.

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

You can ask for repairs and must allow your landlord reasonable access to your home to carry them out.

Check your most recent tenancy agreement to see if you should allow access for other reasons, such as viewings by future tenants. Access must be with your permission and at a reasonable time.

It's illegal for landlords or agents to harass you or force you to leave your home.

Leaving the property voluntarily

You may want to leave during or after the section 21 notice period.

Let your landlord know if you intend to stay past the end of the notice to avoid any misunderstanding about when you're leaving.

Continue to pay rent and only agree a move out date once you've found somewhere else to live. For example, if you sign a tenancy agreement for a new home.

Ending your tenancy legally

Communicate in writing, for example by email. Be clear about when you want the tenancy to end.

You're liable for rent until the tenancy ends, even if you move out earlier. Your landlord should be flexible if they want you to leave without the need for court action.

Giving notice to your landlord

If you can't agree on a tenancy end date, you can usually end your tenancy by giving notice to your landlord.

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 won't need a court order to end your tenancy if you give them a valid notice.

Find out more about:

Signing documents with a date for you to leave

Don't be pressured into signing documents that could end your rights to stay in your home. Especially if you're not ready to move, or have nowhere to go.

Beware of signing documents that might look official or legal when they're not.

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

A deed of surrender will only meet the legal requirements if:

  • it's signed by both you and the landlord

  • both signatures are witnessed

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

Don't sign anything labelled 'deed of surrender' or 'express surrender' unless you intend to give up your tenancy and leave without a court order. 

If you can find somewhere else to rent

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 misunderstanding about when you're leaving.

Continue to pay rent and only agree a move out date once you've found somewhere else to live. For example, if you sign a tenancy agreement for a new home.

If you can't find anywhere else to rent

Don't move out if you've nowhere settled to move to.

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

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

The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you ask them 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

Don't 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 decide to take no further action if you can get back on track and 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.

You should look for somewhere cheaper to rent and ask the council for help with this if you need it.

What to expect from the council

The council should check the following if you ask them for help:

  • if the section 21 notice is valid

  • what your landlord intends to do next

  • whether your home is suitable and affordable

They also check that you meet the immigration and residence conditions for help.

The council should accept that you're threatened with homelessness if the notice is valid and ends in the next 8 weeks.

They may also decide you're homeless now if your home is unaffordable or it's not safe for you to stay.

In these situations, the council must help you to either stay in your home or find somewhere else to live.

The council might tell you to stay in your home until your landlord gets a court order or even until the bailiffs come. This may not be reasonable if you will end up with rent arrears or court costs to pay off.

The cost of an eviction will be at least £500. Ask the council for help with these costs if they insist that you must stay.

If your landlord starts court action

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

You may have to pay for the costs of the eviction if the notice is valid.

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 won't have to pay court costs.

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

Last updated: 15 February 2021

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