This entry is part 5 of 14 in the series Possible defences - section 21 notices

How long a section 21 notice lasts (which has been served in respect of an assured shorthold tenancy) depends on whether the property is in England or Wales and when the original tenancy first commenced.

Wales (irrespective of when the tenancy commenced)

Section 21 Housing Act 1988 contains no time limit as to when a section 21 notice may be acted upon once expired. Therefore, once served, a possession order may be obtained any time after it’s expiry unless it has been withdrawn or a new tenancy has been granted since the notice was served. This can be compared with a section 8 notice (normally used for rent arrears) which has a 12 month lifetime before a new one would need serving [section 8(3)(c) Housing Act 1988].

We have personally enforced a section 21 notice more than 5 years after service and was successful.

It would be wise for a landlord wishing to act on a notice some time after expiry (for example a year after expiry) to write to the tenant as it might be quite a shock if the first thing they heard was a court letter.

A suggested template letter for notifying the tenant that the landlord intends to act upon a previously served section 21 notice is available in our landlord forms, letters and templates section.

England

Tenancies granted before 1 October 2015

Where a tenancy is granted in England on or before 1 October 2015, Section 21 Housing Act 1988 contains no time limit as to when a section 21 notice may be acted upon once expired. Therefore, once served, a possession order may be obtained any time after it’s expiry unless it has been withdrawn or a new tenancy has been granted since the notice was served. This can be compared with a section 8 notice (normally used for rent arrears) which has a 12 month lifetime before a new one would need serving [section 8(3)(c) Housing Act 1988].

We have personally enforced a section 21 notice more than 5 years after service and was successful.

It would be wise for a landlord wishing to act on a notice some time after expiry (for example a year after expiry) to write to the tenant as it might be quite a shock if the first thing they heard was a court letter.

A suggested template letter for notifying the tenant that the landlord intends to act upon a previously served section 21 notice is available in our landlord forms, letters and templates section.

Tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015 (or all AST’s from 1 October 2018)

For all tenancies granted in England on or after 1 October 2015 including a renewal, section 21 Housing Act 1988 is amended substantially and a new ‘use it or loose it’ provision is introduced.

Where the rent payable is weekly, monthly or two monthly, court proceedings for possession may not be begun after the end of six months from the date on which the notice was given.

Where the rent payable is greater than 2 monthly (such as quarterly, six monthly or annually), proceedings for possession must not be begun after the end of four months from the date given in the notice for expiry (the date possession is required under the notice).

There were many other changes made to section 21 in England for tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015 including the prohibition on serving notice until four months into a tenancy and a new prescribed form.

From 1 October 2018, the ‘use it or loose it’ provision will apply to ALL assured shorthold tenancies in England including any that were granted before 1 October 2015 (or went statutory periodic).

A more detailed article about section 21 time limits from 1 October 2015 is available here.

 

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