Defending a Section 21 Possession Claim: A Guide for Tenants

By Momtaz Islam, Solicitor of Senior Courts of England and Wales

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, a tool often used by landlords in England and Wales to regain possession of their property, does not diminish your legal rights as a tenant. You have the power to challenge a Section 21 notice under certain conditions. This guide is designed to empower you with the knowledge of how to defend against a Section 21 possession claim effectively.

Understanding Section 21 Notices

A Section 21 notice, commonly known as a ‘no-fault’ eviction notice, is a crucial document that requires your attention. It provides you with two months’ notice to vacate the property, as specified on the notice. Understanding the legal procedures your landlord must follow for the notice to be valid is key. Any error can invalidate the notice, giving you grounds to challenge it.

Critical Grounds for Defending a Section 21 Possession Claim
Incorrect Notice Form: Your landlord must use the correct form (Form 6A) for Section 21 notices issued on or after October 1, 2015. If an incorrect form is utilised, the notice is invalid.
Notice Period Compliance: A Crucial Element in Valid Section 21 Notices
Deposit Protection Rules: If your landlord has taken a deposit, it must be protected in a government-approved scheme, and the tenant must be given prescribed information about the deposit. A failure to comply with these requirements invalidates the Section 21 notice.
EPC and Gas Safety Certificates: Your landlord should have provided you with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and a Gas Safety Certificate at the beginning of the tenancy. Non-compliance can invalidate the notice.
Retaliatory Eviction: In an instance whereby, you have complained about the condition of the property and the local authority has served a notice requiring your landlord to carry out repairs, a Section 21 notice served within six months of the complaint can be deemed retaliatory and, therefore, making the section 21 invalid.
Licensing Requirements: Your landlord must have the license for properties requiring a license (e.g., houses in multiple Occupations or properties in selective licensing areas). An unlicensed property invalidates the Section 21 notice.
Steps to Defend a Section 21 Possession Claim
Verify Notice Details: For accuracy, check the form, dates, and all details on the Section 21 notice. Any discrepancies could make the notice invalid.
Check Deposit Protection: Contact the relevant deposit protection scheme to verify that your deposit is protected and that you received the prescribed information.
Review Documentation: Ensure you have received the EPC, Gas Safety Certificate, and the “How to Rent” guide (for tenancies starting after 01/10/2015).
Gather Evidence of Complaints: if you have complained of repairs, see point 5 – retaliatory eviction
Attend Court Hearings: Attend all hearings if the case goes to court. Present your evidence clearly and concisely, demonstrating any failures on the landlord’s part to comply with legal requirements.

How We Can Help

Defending a Section 21 possession claim can be complex, but you do not have to face it alone. With our help, you can navigate the legal requirements and challenge invalid Section 21 notices with confidence. We are here to support you and enhance your chances of a successful defence.

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