If you took a poll of the biggest gripes of lettings agents, the serving of Section 21 notices would probably be near, if not at, the top of the list. It’s a process that can be difficult to complete successfully because of the specific actions involved and the amount of legal holes that could be fallen into, rendering the serving of the notice invalid.
It’s a task that isn’t necessarily easy, but it isn’t necessarily difficult (as long as you have the right knowledge) either. In many cases, it simply comes down to using a checklist and practising to learn how to serve a Section 21 notice correctly - that way, you can ensure you’ve ticked all the right boxes and done all the right things. Here are some of the areas you need to be aware of.
You are legally required to supply the tenant you’re serving the notice to with various documentation, otherwise the notice will be invalid. Most of it you should already have - the Gas Safety Certificate and Energy Performance Certificate in particular - but you may need to find other pieces, like the latest version of the government's “How to Rent” guide. Systems like Letflo, which collates everything you need automatically, will be able to help here and could take a lot of the work off your hands (especially if you’re serving a lot of notices).
You can’t just serve a notice whenever you want - there are time considerations to be taken into account as well. For instance, if the tenancy is within its first four months, you cannot serve a notice. Additionally, one of the ways in which the notice prevents “revenge” evictions is by ensuring that the tenant has to be given a minimum of two months’ notice from the date the notice is served, with the move-out date specified on the notice. If the date is not specified, the notice is invalid.
It is often the details which end up derailing the successful serving of a Section 21 notice. It cannot be stressed enough that everything on it has to be exactly right, but the potential for silly mistakes to be made, such as specifying the wrong property address on the documentation, is still high. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that aspects like the proper and lawful protection of the tenant’s deposit can be proved and demonstrated if required, otherwise you could leave yourself open to sanctions.
It can be difficult to keep every requirement for a successful Section 21 notice in your head, but if you incorrectly serve one, it will be rejected and then cost time and money to resubmit. You might not have the time or the money to spend on doing so, which means it’s vital to check and double-check that every part of the notice is correct before you submit it.
Fortunately, Fixflo produced an incredibly well-received Section 21 Checklist that can be downloaded and used for free to help you ensure that you don’t have any issues going forward. While it should not be solely relied on to ensure you serve a successful notice, it will certainly help you avoid some of the common pitfalls. You can find it here.