Renting: What to do if you're given a Section 21 'no fault' eviction notice

The rental sector in Wales is facing a shake-up. Credit: Unsplash/PA

Hundreds of thousands of homes in Wales are rented out privately. With the biggest change to housing law in decades taking place this year, the rental sector in Wales is facing a shake-up.

While the Renting Homes (Wales) Act legislation is intended to give tenants more security, and comes into force on December 1, its implementation was delayed and was due to begin in July.

In the meantime, landlords can legally evict tenants with two months notice - with calls to homelessness charity Shelter asking for advice on Section 21s tripling since the pandemic.

So what is a Section 21 notice and what are your options if you're given one?

Hundreds of thousands of homes are rented privately in Wales.

What is a Section 21?

This is the most common type of notice landlords give to end a tenancy and the 'easiest' way for landlords to gain back possession of their property.

It's a procedure set out in Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and applies to assured shorthold tenancies only - the most common tenancy agreement.

Landlords are not required to provide tenants with the reason for eviction under Section 21.

How much notice do landlords need to give in Wales?

Currently, landlords need to give two months' notice.

Emergency coronavirus legislation ended on March 24, which ensured tenants were given six months' notice.

New legislation to permanently enforce a six month notice period was due to be introduced on July 15, but has now been pushed back until December 1.

It means landlords can legally ask tenants to leave with two months’ notice, until the Renting Homes (Wales) Act comes into force at the end of the year.

The biggest change to housing law in decades is taking place this year Credit: PA

How do landlords give a Section 21?

For the notice to be valid, correct procedure and wording must be followed. An error can mean a landlord will be refused possession later down the line.

It must be in writing and must be at least two months long (or the amount of time between rent payments, whichever is longer).

What should I do if I'm issued with notice to leave my home?

First of all, check to see if the notice is actually valid. In Wales:

  • If your landlord is not registered, and has either not obtained the proper licence, or appointed an agent who is licensed, any section 21 notice they give you cannot be used to evict you. If you receive a section 21 notice you should check the Rent Smart Wales public register to see if your landlord or agent is registered and complied with the licensing rules. If they have not, the notice will not be valid.

  • If your landlord has not protected your deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme and given you certain prescribed information within 30 days then they cannot evict you using the section 21 procedure.

  • If your landlord or agent has charged a banned letting fee and has not repaid it to you, or has failed to return a holding fee, they cannot serve a section 21 notice on you.

Shelter Cymru has provided a comprehensive guide explaining whether or not your Section 21 is valid here.

My Section 21 notice is valid - do I have to leave immediately?

In short, no. There are three steps that a landlord needs to follow to evict a tenant. They are:1.) Give written notice to leave your home2.) Apply for a possession order from the County Court3.) Apply for a warrant to set a date for a bailiff to evict the tenant

What help is out there?

Your local council may be able to help and has a duty to assess your case if you've applied for accommodation or help in keeping or getting accommodation, you're homeless or you'll be made homeless within 56 days. If you're eligible, the council can then help you keep your accommodation or get suitable accommodation.

Charities also offer help and advice.

  • Shelter Cymru can give expert housing advice on 08000 495 495.

  • Citizens Advice can also offer in-person help. You can find your nearest branch here