Section 21 and Section 8 Notices to Quit

What is notice to quit?

A notice to quit is a document from a landlord or owner notifying a tenant that they need to leave the rented premises. Notices of this nature give a tenant a specific date to vacate and settle unpaid rent or rectify other concerns which violate the terms of the lease.

What are the contents of a notice to quit?

A notice to quit names the people ordered to vacate the premises, the leaving date, the total sum of unpaid rent, any problems that need to be remedied, the period covered by the accrued amount, and information as to who the vacated property should be surrendered.

Sections 8 and 21 notices

Section 8 notice to quit

Also known as ‘Section 8 possession notice,’ Section 8 notice to quit is served on the tenant by a landlord who seeks to regain possession of the property while the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) is still in force.

The Section 8 notice, however, can only be used when the tenant committed a breach of the tenancy agreement, the most common of which is non-payment of rent. This section provides 17 grounds for a landlord to seek repossession of his property from a tenant before the expiration of the AST.

Once the landlord complies with the service of this notice and upon failure or refusal of the tenant to leave the premises, the landlord can apply for an order of possession from the court. If this is granted, the landlord may evict the tenant from the premises.

Landlords can give between two weeks’ and two months’ notice depending on which terms have been broken.

Section 21 Notice to Quit

A Section 21 notice to quit is given by a landlord who seeks repossession of the premises after a fixed term tenancy ends – if there’s a written contract – or during a tenancy with no fixed end date (a ‘periodic’ tenancy).

If the tenancy started or was renewed after 30 September 2015, landlords must give tenants the Section 21 notice by filling in form 6a. If the tenancy was valid before this date the landlord can write their own Section 21 notice; if it’s a periodic tenancy, they must explain that they’re giving notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

At least two months’ notice must be given for the tenants to leave the property under a Section 21 notice. Tenants must be allowed to stay for any additional time covered by their final rent payment if it’s a periodic tenancy.

Landlords are not allowed to issue a Section 21 notice if:

  • it’s less than six months since the tenancy started;
  • the fixed term has not ended, unless a contract clause permits this;
  • the property is categorised as a house in multiple ccupation (HMO) and does not have a HMO licence from the council;
  • the council has served an improvement notice on the property in the last six months;
  • the council has served a notice in the last six months that says it will do emergency works on the property;
  • the tenancy started after April 2007 and they have not put the tenants’ deposit in a deposit protection scheme.

Landlords can also only issue a Section 21 notice if they have given the tenants copies of: the property’s Energy Performance Certificate; a current gas safety record for the property; and the government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide.

After notice has been given, landlords should keep proof that they gave notice to the tenants. They can either fill in the certification of service form (N215) or write ‘served by [landlord’s name] on [the date]’ on the notice. If the tenants do not leave by the specified date, landlords can use the completed N215 or notice to apply for an accelerated possession order.

Article written by...
Lucy Trevelyan LLB
Lucy Trevelyan LLB

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Lucy graduated in law from the University of Greenwich, and is also an NCTJ trained journalist. A legal writer and editor with over 20 years' experience writing about the law.