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Understanding Section 21 in the UK: Can Tenants Refuse?

Understand section 21 in more detail

If you’re a tenant or a landlord in the United Kingdom, you’ve probably heard about “Section 21.” But what does Section 21 mean in the UK, and why would a landlord issue it? Can a tenant refuse a Section 21 notice? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of Section 21, shedding light on its purpose, implications, and how it affects tenants. We will also lay out the best steps to take for tenants to start a housing disrepair claim with us at National Claims

What Is Section 21?

Section 21, often referred to as a Section 21 notice, is a key provision within the UK’s housing legislation. It is part of the Housing Act 1988 and is primarily used by landlords to regain possession of their property from tenants. This process is sometimes colloquially known as “evicting” the tenant, though it has specific legal procedures and requirements.

The Purpose of Section 21

Landlords may have various reasons for wanting to regain possession of their property. These reasons could include selling the property, carrying out significant renovations, or simply ending a tenancy agreement. Section 21 provides a legal mechanism for landlords to do so without needing to prove any fault on the part of the tenant, such as non-payment of rent or misconduct.

Why Would a Section 21 Notice Be Given?

Let’s dive deeper into the scenarios in which a landlord might serve a Section 21 notice:

Property Sale

Landlords may decide to sell their property while it is still occupied by tenants. In such cases, they may use a Section 21 notice to terminate the tenancy, allowing them to sell the property without complications.

Property Renovations

Major renovations or refurbishments can be disruptive to tenants. Landlords may choose to issue a Section 21 notice to regain possession temporarily, making it easier to carry out the necessary work. Once the renovations are complete, the property can be re-let.

End of Tenancy

Landlords may simply decide not to renew a tenancy agreement or terminate it at the end of the agreed-upon term. Section 21 provides a straightforward legal process for this.

Mortgage Repossession

If a landlord is facing financial difficulties and their property is at risk of repossession due to mortgage arrears, they may use Section 21 to regain possession and potentially sell the property to settle the debt.

Breach of Tenancy Agreement

While Section 21 doesn’t require tenants to have breached their tenancy agreement, landlords can still use it if they wish to evict a tenant for a specific reason. In such cases, they may serve a Section 21 notice alongside a Section 8 notice, which outlines the grounds for eviction.

How Does Section 21 Work?

Understanding the process of serving a Section 21 notice is crucial for both landlords and tenants.

Serving the Notice

A Section 21 notice must be served to the tenant in writing. It should provide at least two months’ notice, and the end date should not fall before the fixed term of the tenancy (if there is one) or the first six months of the tenancy. It’s important that the notice is correctly formatted and contains all necessary information, such as the property address, names of the landlord and tenant, and the notice period.

Deposit Protection

Before serving a Section 21 notice, landlords must ensure that the tenant’s deposit is protected in a government-approved scheme and that the prescribed information about the deposit is provided to the tenant within 30 days of receiving the deposit.

Eviction Process

If the tenant doesn’t vacate the property by the specified date, the landlord can apply to the court for a possession order. The court will then consider the case and, if everything is in order, grant a possession order. In some cases, bailiffs may be required to physically remove the tenant from the property.

Tenant’s Rights

It’s important for tenants to be aware of their rights. Tenants have the right to request proof that their deposit is protected, and they can challenge the Section 21 notice in court if they believe it’s invalid. It’s crucial for tenants to seek legal guidance if they find themselves facing eviction through Section 21.

Can a Tenant Refuse a Section 21 Notice?

While tenants can’t outright refuse a Section 21 notice, they do have legal rights and avenues for recourse.

Checking the Validity of the Notice

Tenants should review the Section 21 notice carefully. If it doesn’t meet the legal requirements, such as the correct notice period or prescribed information about the deposit, tenants may challenge its validity in court. This can delay the eviction process.

Challenging Retaliatory Evictions

If a tenant has reported necessary repairs or maintenance to the landlord, and the landlord responds with a Section 21 notice, this may be considered a “retaliatory eviction.” In such cases, tenants can challenge the notice and potentially prevent eviction.

Seeking Legal Guidance

Tenants who receive a Section 21 notice should seek legal guidance immediately.

Making a Housing Disrepair Claim with National Claims

National Claims is a service that specialises in helping tenants make housing disrepair claims against negligent landlords. Here’s how the process generally works with us:

Document the Disrepair

Before making a claim, it’s crucial to thoroughly document the disrepair issues in your rented property. This includes taking photographs, videos, and written descriptions of the problems. Keep copies of all correspondence with your landlord regarding the issue.

Contact National Claims

Reach out to us to discuss your housing disrepair situation. Our claims specialists can provide guidance on the claims process and help assess the validity of your claim.

Professional Assessment

We can arrange for a professional assessment of the disrepair issues in your property. This assessment can help determine the extent of the problems and their impact on your living conditions.


With the support of us at National Claims, you can work towards a resolution to your housing disrepair issues. This may include repairs being carried out, compensation being awarded, or a rent reduction.

A group of houses on a cul-de-sac


Understanding Section 21 notices and housing disrepair is essential for both landlords and tenants in the UK. While Section 21 provides landlords with a legal means to regain possession of their property, tenants have rights and avenues to challenge the notice under certain circumstances.

Moreover, tenants facing housing disrepair issues should not hesitate to take action. National Claims offers a valuable service for tenants seeking to address housing disrepair problems and hold negligent landlords accountable. By documenting the disrepair, seeking professional assessments, and, if necessary, taking legal action, tenants can ensure that their rented homes are safe and habitable.

In the complex landscape of UK housing law, knowledge and proactive measures are key to safeguarding the rights and well-being of both landlords and tenants.

Contact us today to start your claim and find out more about how we at National Claims deal with housing disrepair claims.

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