If you get a section 21 notice, it’s the first step your landlord must take to make you leave your home.

The notice gives you a date to leave your home by. Your landlord must give you at least 2 months’ notice.

Your landlord doesn’t need a reason for giving you a section 21 notice. Usually, they will discuss it with you first so that you know why they have given you notice.

You can only get a section 21 notice if you have an assured shorthold tenancy. Check what type of tenancy you have if you’re not sure.

You don’t have to sign a section 21 notice to prove you’ve received it.

Check if the notice is valid

The rules around the validity are complicated and many section 21 notices are not served correctly.

Shelter England has a guide to checking if a section 21 notice is valid.

We can also help you to check if it’s valid. Contact us if you’d like advice about this.

Court action by your landlord

Your landlord must apply to court for a possession order to evict you if you do not leave when the section 21 notice ends. They cannot make you leave straight away. This would be an illegal eviction.

If the section 21 notice is valid, the court will issue a possession order. This means the court has decided you must leave your home.

You do not have to leave your home by the date for possession. The next step is eviction by bailiffs.

Eviction by bailiffs

If you still haven’t left your home, your landlord can ask bailiffs to evict you by applying for a bailiffs’ warrant. This is the final stage in the process. The bailiffs’ warrant can take several months to work through the court system from when you were first served notice.

This gives you time to start looking at alternative options. Never leave your property unless you have a clear plan of where you are going to be moving to.

If you are facing court eviction, we will talk to you about how we can help and at what stage.  We would generally not expect a household to stay until issued with a bailiffs’ warrant but for some households this can sometimes be the best option, to give you time to find somewhere else to live or because of your specific circumstances. We can discuss what most suits your needs, depending on your individual situation.

How we can help

We are here to help you through what can be a very stressful and unsettling time. It is best if you ask us for help as soon as you get a section 21 notice.

Getting help early on gives you the best chance of achieving a positive outcome.

We could help you look for somewhere else to live or negotiate with your landlord to stay in your home.

Our legal duty to help you

We have a legal duty to recognise your risk of homelessness, work with you to create a plan that helps you work with us to resolve your situation and then work through that plan to try to stop you becoming homeless. See what help you can get if you are homeless or could lose your home.

Talking to your landlord

We will try to find out why the notice has been served and to do everything we can to work out a solution to keep you in your home. We know this is the best solution to avoid the disruption and cost of moving. As part of working with you, we will contact your landlord to find out why the notice has been served and whether there is any scope for negotiation or mediation. This can work, depending on the reasons for the notice.

Looking at other housing options

If we cannot stop the notice going ahead, we will be able to work with you to look at alternative housing options with you. You may be able to join the Dorset Homechoice scheme if you meet the eligibility criteria and bid for social housing properties. There is a long wait to get social housing, so this is unlikely to be a quick solution to your problem.

You should be looking at alternative private renting options as a quicker solution. We can help you with this. You will need to be proactive and look for your own accommodation.