‘Evicted for no reason’: the truth behind Section 21 notices


Last week, BBC One aired a Panorama documentary examining unfair treatment of tenants by landlords, with interviews with renters who had been evicted through what was described as “no-fault” evictions. But what are the rules behind Section 21?

The documentary, titled Evicted for no reason, looked at a number of people “whose lives had been plunged into chaos by their landlords” after they had been made the subject of Section 21 eviction notices and forced to move out of their private rented accommodation. While the programme also spoke to landlords, it portrayed a very unbalanced market where landlords could very easily and unfairly remove tenants from their properties.

Most tenants sign six-month or one-year contracts at the start of their tenancies – assured shorthold tenancy agreements – which includes information on rent, deposits, the start and end of tenancy, whether it can be ended early, and whether the property can be sublet, among other things.

However, it seems that regaining possession of a property is not as straightforward as some might believe. Under certain grounds, a landlord can seek to regain possession under Section 8, while Section 21 means a landlord does not have to give any reasons, provided the fixed term has expired, but the process can be complex.

What is Section 21?

If a landlord wishes to regain their property, they must give a tenant at least two months’ notice in writing of their intention – or where the tenancy was started after 1 October 2015, a Form 6a must be used. If the tenancy is ‘periodic’, the notice can be given during the course of the tenancy. No written reason is required to be given to use a Section 21 notice, as it can be for a range of reasons including selling the property or evicting in order to carry out repairs or improvements.

Landlords are encouraged to keep proof of their notice, by including a certification of service form, or writing “served by [your name] on [the date]” on the notice, in order to increase their chances of successfully evicting the tenant – but there are still no guarantees.

There are a number of conditions which mean that a Section 21 notice cannot be issued, including if it is less than 6 months since the start of the tenancy, if the property is an unlicensed HMO, or if you haven’t provided your tenants with copies of the EPC, gas safety certificate or the government’s How to Rent guide.

A controversial issue

It all sounds quite straightforward, but if a tenant refuses to leave, the landlord must then apply to the courts for a possession order, and a warrant for eviction. The tenant can also make a request to the court that they be allowed to stay in the property for longer, which can cause the procedure to continue for a number of months.

The Panorama documentary has been criticised by some industry insiders as an unfair and biased portrayal of “rogue” landlords, with landlord campaigner Dr Rosalind Beck writing in a blog: “Whilst it was nice that they showed a landlord, Frances Carpenter…it would have been more representative and even-handed to profile four landlords alongside the four profiled tenants, and show the extreme financial loss and stress experienced very often by landlords – and not choose someone who was facing fairly trivial tenant problems.”

RLA policy director David Smith added: “Faced with emotional stories of the kind likely to appear on [the BBC’s Panorama], it is important that debate on security in rented housing is grounded in firm evidence.

“Most tenancies are ended by the tenant, rather than the landlord…The vast majority of landlords have no interest in getting rid of any tenant who respects the property and pays their rent.”

CityGreens, Solihull, Birmingham

City-style apartments directly on Birmingham's largest park

  • Limited pre-launch prices.
  • ZERO ground rent
  • Excellent tenant demand

£182,000 - £419,000

Highgrove Mews

High Net Yield Freehold Houses

  • Commutable to London (27 mins to central Paddington station)
  • Rental demand extremely strong with large industry presence in Reading
  • Freehold with 4% net yield

£284,955 - £457,000

St Petersgate – Stockport Manchester

New Launch - Stockport Manchester, apartments from £160,000

  • Discounted launch prices from £160,000
  • Excellent transport links with 3 trains per hour to London Euston and only 9 mins journey to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Experienced development team

Assured Rent Housing Association Leases

Assured Rent Housing Association Leases

  • Assured rent & no rental voids
  • Tenant damage cover & newly refurbished inline with requirements of a corporate sitting tenant
  • Free property and lettings management

From £62,000

Emerging Birmingham Commuter Town With Properties From Just £104,000

The emerging Birmingham commuter town where properties are selling in an average of just 24 days

  • A collection of 62 two bedroom apartments and 28 one bedroom apartments.
  • DE14 is one of the fastest selling postcodes in the West Midlands.
  • 23 minute train journey into Birmingham New Street Station.

Properties from £104,000

Mill, Stockport

The Northwest's emerging property hotspot

  • Discounted off-plan 2-bed prices from £162,000
  • Completion date - Q4 2021
  • Rental yields - 6% plus

Discounted off-plan 2-bed prices from £162,000


Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today: 

+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT

+852 9865 4446

Open from 9am-6pm HKT

Stamp Duty Calculator


Unlock members only investment opportunities and full development details. Join now – it’s free, quick and easy.


Not a member? Sign up for free


‘Evicted for no reason’: the truth behind Section 21 notices


By submitting your details via this online form you agree to be contacted via email/phone/SMS by Direct Marketplace Ltd t/a BuyAssociation in relation to property investment and property developments . We do not share your personal details with third parties.  To view our full Privacy Policy click here.