As a landlord, there may come times when you might have to take back possession of your property from the renter. It might be because you are planning on selling it, undertaking a major renovation project, moving in yourself, or simply because the tenant won’t pay their rent.
Nevertheless, you just cannot ask them to vacate, and thus, depending on the situation you are in with your renter, you are required to serve them a specific kind of eviction notice. It is important that you meet all the required legal requirements if you want to gain back possession of the property as soon as possible. It just takes something as little as a missed signature to have your eviction order rejected by the court or appealed by the tenant.
The Various Kinds of Eviction Notices
The most commonly served types of eviction notices are the section 8 and 21. The section 8 is a notice to quit and is referred to as so because it falls under section 8 of the Housing Act of 1988 and is what you serve to a tenant that breaches the terms of their tenancy agreement – such as not paying their rents.
To commence the eviction process, a landlord should first serve the section 8 notice to the renter while stating the grounds on which they are seeking repossession of their rental property. This notice should be in the prescribed format. The amount of time the notice allows the renter to have vacated depends on the grounds for eviction. Nevertheless, the tenant is allowed a minimum of two weeks’ notice. Upon serving the renter with the notice, the landlord can now apply to the court seeking to obtain an order for repossession.
Section 21 is the notice that a landlord gives to a tenant when they are seeking to repossess the property for their own personal use, for instance, they want to move into that property themselves. Here, the tenant has not breached the terms of their contract. As such, the section 21 notice does not usually contain a reason for the eviction. Nonetheless, it needs to be in writing, and the renter should be served with the notice at least two months prior.
Fortunately, serving either notice is usually enough to prompt a tenant to vacate the property without further action. However, it is imperative that you follow the rules governing these notices because failure to do so might invalidate your notice. This implies that if the tenant doesn’t leave, you will have to serve the notice again before you can take the next step: filing for a repossession order.
Conditions for serving a section 21 notice
Before you serve the section 21, you must first complete form 6A, after which you will serve the notice. But you first must have:
- Provided the tenant with a copy of an EPC – which has a rating of E or higher if their tenancy began or was renewed after April 2018.
- Issued them with a ‘How to Rent booklet’ and a valid gas certificate at the start of the tenancy.
- Protected their tenant deposit within 30 days of receiving the cash.
- Served the information on how you went about protecting the deposit within those thirty days.
- All national and county licenses.
- You must be their landlord or agent.
You should also know that serving a section 21 shortly after the renter has filed a repair notice to the local council is likely to be interpreted as a retaliatory eviction. In such a case, it is recommended that you first follow any repair orders that the council will give, then wait for a while before you serve the section 21 notice.
When Can You Serve the Section 21 Notice?
A section 21 cannot be served if:
- It is during the first four months of a tenancy
- It will expire before the break clause
- It shall expire before the tenancy’s fixed term is over.
The section 21 notice has a period of 2 months before it expires. If the tenant will not have vacated the property, you can proceed to apply to court.
Must the Notice Expire at the End of the Rental Period?
This will depend on whether you are operating within a fixed term or periodic tenancy.
Fixed Term Tenancy
Beginning October 2015, a landlord no longer needs to ‘time’ the notice to expire at the end of the rental period if it is within the fixed term tenancy.
You can, therefore, serve the notice on any day of the tenancy. And if the tenant decides to move out on that day, they will be owing you the pro-rata amount for the number of days they are into the rental period.
Outside the Fixed Term
If you intend on serving the notice a day after their fixed term has expired, it is important to note that the notice shall always expire once two full rental periods are over after the fixed term’s expiration date.
For instance, if you have a periodic tenancy that has a monthly rental period which runs from the 20th to the 19th of each month, then a notice served on 16th July would expire on 19th September. This is because you have to give two-full-rental periods. Thus, your notice period shall expire once they have elapsed fully.
How to Serve a Section 21 Notice
To serve this notice, you must first fill out the form 6A. Also, serving the notice implies that you have to ensure that the renter receives it. As such, you must be able to prove that they received your notice forms so that your eviction may stand a chance if it goes to court.
You can serve the notice in the following ways:
This implies going to the tenant and handing them an envelope addressed to them with the notice in it. The deemed date of service should be the day you did it. You should also have a witness with you to confirm that you did deliver it to the tenant.
Left at Address
This is similar to a personal delivery in that you will serve the notice by leaving it at the property, for instance, posting it through the mailbox. Here, the deemed date of service should be three days after you have delivered it to the property.
You will also need to take a witness with you, so they can ascertain through evidence – such as photos – that you delivered the notice to the property.
A recorded delivery is another way of serving the notice. However, it is not recommended because in the event that the envelope is returned undelivered, you’ll not have served the notice.
Nevertheless, if they do accept the delivery, the notice will be deemed as having been served on the delivery day. The risk of uncertainty is what makes this option unrecommendable.
Process servers are professional services that you higher to serve legal notices. They shall legally serve the notice before any deadlines in addition to providing proof of service that may be used in court in case your service of the notice is challenged.
First Class Post
A notice may also be served through postal delivery. However, in a first-class post, the deemed date of service is two days after the notice was posted, if the posting day was a working day. Thus, if the second day after the day of posting is not a working day, the notice will be deemed to have been served on the next working day.
For instance, if you make the post on a Friday, two days after will be a Sunday; which is not a working day. Thus, the deemed day of service will be Monday. Again not a recommended option.
If you serve the notice via email, the deemed date of service shall be the same day so long as the email is delivered before 4.30pm on a working day. If it is sent later than 4.30 pm, it will be considered as to having been served on the working day that follows. Request a read receipt when sending via email.
Witnesses for Service of Notice
While anyone can function as your witness, it is recommended that you choose an individual that the court is likely to believe. Therefore, they have to be a neutral party that has little to no connection to the case. As such, your co-landlord, spouse, friends, family, or anyone that is likely to side with you is the worst choice for a witness. Ideally, your witness should be an authority figure such as a policeman or a local official. However, this might not always be possible.
Additionally, it is important that your witness is able to attend all potential court hearings. Therefore, it is only sensible that they are local to the court that you apply to. Consider a neighbor of yours or the property.
Regaining possession of your property, regardless of the motive, is not a straightforward process just because you manage or own the property. Tenants have their rights too and this is why it is important to follow the required legal protocol to avoid getting into trouble. Follow the above guide when serving a Section 21 Notice.
Being landlords ourselves, we understand the hassle that comes with being a landlord. Nevertheless, we have a highly experienced management team that can take control of your property rental from start to finish. We utilise extensive marketing techniques to ensure that your property is always occupied, and by the right people. Valor Properties has experienced lettings agents in Bradford and lettings agents in Leeds, covering the whole of West Yorkshire.