Section 21 notices to terminate a tenancy commenced before 1 October 2015

To terminate an assured shorthold tenancy, a landlord must give notice to his or her tenant in a particular way.

A Section 21 notice must be used to end a tenancy whether or not the fixed term has expired. You may want to regain possession, or you may want to agree new terms with the tenants such as a rent increase.

There are two versions of a Section 21 form. The choice of which to use depends on the date of service on your tenant.

The law specifies that you must give your tenant at least two months notice (unless he is in breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement). The notice remains valid indefinitely until either your tenant signs a new agreement, or he or she gives up possession.

The fixed term is the period specified in the tenancy agreement as the duration of the term (usually, at least 6 months). If you want to terminate the tenancy at the expiry of that term, then you will have to serve notice on your tenant before the term expires. Provided the dates allow you to give sufficient notice before expiry of the term, you must use the s21(1)(b) form. If on the other hand, you will give notice after the expiry date of the term, you must use  the s21(4)(a) form. If you fail correctly to match the service date with the form, your notice will be void.

Example of timings

A tenancy with a fixed term of 6 months starting on 1 August 2015 will expire on 31 January 2016. If the landlord wants to serve notice before 31 January, he or she should use a S21(1)(b) notice.

If the landlord wants possession on the 1 February 2016, then the latest that he or she could serve a S21(b) notice is the 30 November. If he or she serves one between 1 December and 31 January, then the tenancy will continue for a number of weeks after the end of the fixed term.

If the landlord wanted to serve notice on or after 1 February, he or she must use a S21(4)(a) form.

So while you may be able to arrange with him to leave sooner, he is not obliged to do so. Even if you have your tenant's written agreement to leave, it is safer to serve the formal notice, because he is not bound by that promise. Serving the notice prevents him from causing problems for you if he changes his mind.

Section 21 notice to terminate a tenancy created on or after 1 October 2015

Form 6A

The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 have changed residential tenancy law. The 2015 regulations have merged the two versions of section 21 notice into one: Form 6A.

The new rule is as follows:

To terminate a tenancy created on or after October 1 2015 you are required to use Form 6A. Before you use this form the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • Tenant must have resided in the property for at least four months.
  • You have complied with the 2015 regulations at the time of letting. Providing a booklet titled "How to rent: checklist for renting in England", together with energy and gas safety certificates.

Example of timings

A tenancy with a fixed term of 6 months starting on 1 October 2015 will expire on 31 March 2016. If the landlord wants to serve notice to gain possession on 31 March he or she should serve Form 6A no later than 31 January 2016. However, unlike the situation under the old rules, he can serve this same form at any time after 31 January.

Note: a new tenancy means a new tenancy. If the arrangement is to top up a pre-existing tenancy, then it is treated as a tenancy that came into existence before 1st October 2015, so the old rules apply and you should use a S21 notice.

Of course, you can arrange for your tenant to leave at any time, but even if he agrees in writing, he may change his mind at any time, leaving you with no alternative than to serve a notice as the law requires.

Section 8 notice

A Section 8 notice should be used as the start of the process to evict the tenant and regain possession because the tenant is in breach of the agreement.

A landlord cannot evict a tenant without first obtaining a court order for possession. Before applying to court, he or she must have served this form on each tenant.

The grounds under which the landlord may serve it are set out in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988. We have included a full list in the guidance notes to this document alongside the explanatory notes on how to complete it.

The most common reasons for serving a S8 notice are non-payment or late payment of rent, damage to the property or its contents, or disturbance of neighbours and other local residents. However, it can be used in the case of any breach of agreement and several other more esoteric cases as well.

If the fixed term of the tenancy is at an end and the landlord seeks possession, you should serve a S21 notice instead. A S8 notice is suitable only if the fixed term has not ended.

The period that must elapse before the landlord may apply to the County Court to evict the tenant, depends on the grounds for eviction and varies between two weeks and two months (except in the case of antisocial behaviour).

Serving a S8 Notice does not mean that the landlord must take the tenant to court. It can be used as an effective warning to the tenant that the agreement has been breached and that if there is a further breach he may take action.

What we include with each document

These notices follow the official prescribed format set out by law and must be completed correctly to be valid.

We provide notes as to how to complete each notice correctly and an example of each, duly completed.

With the S8 form, we include a draft "last arrears" letter which you may wish to serve with the form.

The law relating to these notices

The Section 8 Notice was updated on 6th April 2015 to take into account the changes brought in by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

New Form 6A notice complies with The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015.

All notices also comply with the Housing Act 1988 and the Housing Act 1996.

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