Demystifying Section 21: Understanding Landlord and Tenant Rights in Detail



The Insider @ Houst
Last updated on
February 2, 2023

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Demystifying Section 21: Understanding Landlord and Tenant Rights in Detail

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If you're a tenant or landlord, there's a good chance that you've heard of section 21. It's a section of the Housing Act 1988 that gives landlords the right to evict tenants without giving them any reason. While this might sound bad for tenants, I'm going to explain why it's actually more common for landlords to use Section 21 incorrectly than it is for them to do so in the correct manner.

Table of Contents

Section 21 is a section of the Housing Act 1988

Section 21 is a section of the Housing Act 1988. It's a landlord's notice to end an assured shorthold tenancy, which means that you can use it if your tenant has been renting from you for less than six months. If they have been paying their rent on time and have not broken any of your rules, then they have limited rights against eviction through this method.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 is a legal notice that landlords can use to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. It's also known as "no fault eviction." This means that your tenant doesn't have to be at fault for you to give them notice and end their tenancy. You can use section 21 if:

  • Your property is a flat or house.
  • You want them out because they've broken one of the terms in your agreement (for example, if they owe rent).

At the end of your fixed term tenancy, you do not have any right to possession. Your landlord must give you two months' notice before they can evict you. This means that if your tenancy agreement has come to an end and you've stayed on as a periodic tenant (which we'll discuss later), then your landlord cannot kick you out without giving proper notice.

If they want to evict for rent arrears or other reasons such as anti-social behaviour or damage caused by tenants, then this is called "section 8" of The Housing Act 1988 and requires them to issue an official notice stating these grounds for eviction within 28 days after receiving information about it from someone else such as housing officers working on behalf of local councils across England & Wales; private companies like EJL who provide similar services but charge more than councils; social landlords like housing associations etc...

Notice period conditions

  • You must give written notice on a special form known as a 'section 21'. This may be done by post or in person; if delivered by hand, it must be signed for by someone over 16 years old who lives at that address. The notice must also say how much rent is still owed and when it's due by (or after).
  • The date on which this notice expires should be 28 days before expiry of the statutory period which starts from when they moved into the property--so if they moved in on 1st September 2017 then their statutory period would start ticking from 1st October 2017 until 30th April 2018; however this does not mean that they can stay until then! If someone has not paid rent then landlords are entitled under law  to issue possession proceedings immediately after serving section 21 notices without giving any reason why - so don't delay!
  • Any payment owed to a landlord after serving notice under section 21 will be treated as rent arrears and could trigger legal consequences for the landlord, including bailiffs and court action.

What should a tenant do if they believe that their landlord has failed to provide them with adequate living conditions?

Landlords are not permitted to rent out properties that do not meet the minimum standards of living. If you believe your landlord has failed to provide you with adequate living conditions, it's important that you contact your local council. The council will investigate whether or not there are any breaches of the law and take action if necessary.

For example, if a tenant believes their landlord is breaking health and safety laws by failing to carry out repairs on their property or by allowing pests like rats into the property then they should report them immediately through https://www1/council-housing/report-a-problem/.

Landlords: What are the risks of breaching these laws?

As a landlord, you have certain rights and responsibilities. You must be aware of these laws so that you can protect your interests as well as those of your tenants.

Your rights include:

  • The right to take back possession of the property at any time during an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (AST) if there is no breach by the tenant
  • The right to serve notice on a tenant with at least two months' notice before ending an AST

Landlords to evict tenants without having to give a reason.

This means that if you're renting your home on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), and your landlord has used section 21 to end their agreement with you, they don't need to offer any proof of why they want you out.

In order to use Section 21, landlords must:

  • Give written notice that they want possession of their property back within two months from when this notice was given - this can be done at any time during or after an AST has come up for renewal;
  • Send one copy each tenant/s who lives at the property;
  • Serve these notices via post rather than handing them personally (although it's best practice for landlords not just hand over keys but come along too);

Section 21: The correct written notice and followed the correct procedure.

When it comes to Section 21 notices, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Firstly, landlords can only use this method if they have given tenants the correct written notice and followed the correct procedure. If they do not, then their eviction notice will be invalid and may not be able to evict their tenant using Section 21 at all.

Secondly, you must give your tenant a written notice stating that they must leave by a specific date (known as an "expiry date"). If this isn't done correctly then again it is likely that any proceedings brought against them will fail due to lack of evidence showing that proper notice was given in accordance with legislation laid down by Parliament - which means no chance for an eviction!

There must be at least two months' notice before a landlord can use Section 21.

The Section 21 notice must be given to your tenant at least two months before the end of the tenancy. This is a minimum requirement, so you can choose to give longer notice if you wish. The notice must be in writing and served on either yourself or an agent acting on behalf of your property management company (if applicable).

The most common reason for using Section 21 is because a tenant has fallen behind on rent payments or broken the terms of their tenancy agreement in some way.

The most common reason for using Section 21 is because a tenant has fallen behind on rent payments or broken the terms of their tenancy agreement in some way. For example, if you have given your tenant notice that they must pay their rent by direct debit and they have failed to do so, you could use section 21 as long as:

  • You have given them written notice telling them what they must do to comply with this requirement (usually no later than three months after signing) and
  • You haven't received any further notifications about non-payment from the bank or building society within 14 days of giving them notice.

If you want to avoid a section 21 eviction, you can pay your rent on time and keep up with any other obligations under your tenancy agreement.

If you are having problems with paying your rent, talk to your landlord about it. If they won't help or agree that something needs fixing in the property, then make sure that's noted in writing. You can also contact Shelter Scotland if this doesn't resolve itself within a reasonable time frame (e.g., three months).


The section 21 notice is a powerful tool for landlords and tenants. It allows you to end your tenancy agreement without having to give a reason, as long as you follow the correct procedure. If you're planning on using Section 21 or if your landlord has served notice on you, it's important that both parties understand their rights and obligations under this part of their relationship

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team at Houst is dedicated to providing up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals. If you have hosting inquiries, please write to us at For guest inquiries, reach out at We are here to help you navigate the world of short lets and look forward to assisting you with your needs.

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team at Houst is dedicated to providing up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals. If you have hosting inquiries, please write to us at For guest inquiries, reach out at We are here to help you navigate the world of short lets and look forward to assisting you with your needs.

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