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 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.

Use our templates if you're facing pressure to leave before you're ready.

Tenancy rights after a section 21

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.

Ending your tenancy legally

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

Communicate in writing or by 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 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'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 not apply to court if you can get back on track and make a repayment plan.

You may qualify for breathing space if you're struggling with debt including rent arrears. But breathing space does not stop the section 21 eviction process.

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.

What to expect from the council

The council should check:

  • if your notice is valid and when it ends

  • what your landlord intends to do next

  • whether your home is suitable and affordable

If you have a valid section 21 that ends in the next 8 weeks, the council should accept that you're threatened with homelessness.

If you also meet the immigration and residence conditions, they must take steps to prevent you becoming homeless.

For example, the council may be able to:

  • 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 can't 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 warn you that you'll be found 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 have accepted that you can't afford to stay and helped you find somewhere else to live.

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.

Find out how to get help from the council

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: 30 September 2021

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