May 2021: A further update on regaining possession

After more than a year of restrictions, landlords now know the plan for the eviction ban to be lifted. Since the policy that no tenant would be evicted as a result of the pandemic was first announced last year, landlords have struggled to obtain vacant possession of their rental property in all apart from extreme scenarios.

There have been numerous updates and extensions throughout the last 12 months; so, just what is the latest announcement and when will the changes will take effect.

6-months’ notice for Section 21 Notices is no longer required in England

From 1st June, landlords in England looking to regain possession using a Section 21 notice now need to give just four months’ notice; down from the six-month rule which has been in place for over a year. 

The four-months’ notice requirement will continue until at least 1st October, when it is expected notice periods will return to two months.

After almost a year of extensions to the dates for when these restrictions would be lifted, the latest announcement made by Housing Minister Christopher Pincher comes as a welcome relief for landlords.

However, we would advise remaining up to date of any future changes, and particularly to be mindful of the best time to serve notice throughout August and September this year.

 If a landlord serves a Section 21 Notice to a tenant on the 20th August, they should expect the tenant to return the property on or before 20th December.

However, provided the roadmap continues as per the government announcement, if a landlord waits until 1st October, then tenancy would expire on 1st December.


Throughout the last year, landlords who have wanted to regain possession of their property have had to issue a Section 21 notice giving the tenant six months’ notice; even if that is to enable them to sell the property, move back into it themselves or indeed rent to a friend or family member. However, even after six months had passed, the tenant did not have to move on, as the courts would not allow any enforcement action to be taken.   

Moreover, landlords often issue a Section 21 Notice alongside a Section 8 in the event of arrears or other breach of tenancy, as historically this was the most efficient way of regaining possession through the courts. Therefore, news of the roadmap back to normal notice periods is a welcome relief for those landlords experiencing problems with their tenant.

Courts can now instruct enforcement action

In all but severe cases, there has been a ban on bailiff-enforced evictions for more than a year, with the date having been extended several times.

From 31st May, the Courts can now permit a bailiff to regain possession. This means landlords can start to expect their properties to be returned from mid-June onwards, as the court needs to give two weeks’ notice for enforcement action. However, in reality, some delays are to be expected as there are backlogs in the court and pressure on Court-appointed bailiffs.

Notice periods for serious breach of a tenancy agreement

Since the early part of 2021, there have been some concessions for landlords who wish to regain possession of their property as a result of serious breaches of their tenancy agreement; these shorter notice remain lower in the following circumstances:

Type of breach

Notice period for eviction

Where the tenant has displayed severe anti-social behaviour

Immediately, or with up to four weeks’ notice

If it transpires the tenant made a false statement in their original application

Between two and four weeks

Where the 'Right to Rent' rules have been breached

Two weeks

Where there are instances of domestic abuse

Between two and four weeks

Where there are more than four months of rental arrears

Four weeks

In the event of the death of the tenant

Two months


Rent and Legal Protection

We remain sympathetic towards any tenant who has been impacted by the pandemic and subsequently struggled to pay their rent. In many cases, our Property Management Teams have proactively contacted tenants who fell into arrears and repayment plans have been arranged. Therefore, whilst we appreciate some landlords still have an issue with unpaid rent and are waiting to regain possession, we have done everything in our power to reduce arrears.

However, landlords do need the rent, often to service a mortgage, or to support their own income.  Thankfully, landlords who have Rent and Legal Protection cover from haart now get cover for missed rental payments for up to 15 months, provided the arrears started after 1st March 2021, and the case was not ‘in-claim’ on that date.

Staying within the Law

Whilst some of the measures brought in by the government feel weighted towards tenants, we would urge landlords to remain within the law. 

The risks of breaching the rules and undertaking an illegal eviction are too high. We always recommend speaking to tenants about their options. Tenants who default on the rent and remain in the property longer than they are legally entitled to will struggle to move into another privately rented home in future, and the debt could stay with them for years.

If a tenant cannot pay their rent and has been served an eviction notice, we will talk to them about their options. Provided the tenancy has moved onto a periodic arrangement the tenant only needs to give one months' notice. So, ending their tenancy before they are taken to court will limit their liability and help them move on more quickly.

We hope this latest blog explains the current position on evictions and how we're doing everything we can to help you navigate the ever-changing rules. If you have any questions or concerns about evictions, please speak to your local Haybrook branch.