5 Tenant Tricks to throw out a Section 21 notice

by Des Taylor & Phil Turtle, Landlord Licensing & Defence

9:11 AM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

5 Tenant Tricks to throw out a Section 21 notice

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5 Tenant Tricks to throw out a Section 21 notice

Landlords need to be in no doubt that tenants are being educed by councils, shelter, a wide range of no-win, no-fee ambulance chasers and now tenants unions too.

Tenants are not only shown the ‘tricks and hacks’ they can use to stop you being able to gain possession (no matter how much they haven’t paid in rent) but also (because there is money in it for all of these organisations one way or another) how to hit you the landlord with Rent Repayments Orders for a full years’ rent and various other forms of compensation claim.

This is a recent tenant education campaign issued by the Tenants Union:

During the COVID-19 crisis the government suspended section 21 evictions. Now, under pressure from the landlord lobby, they are planning on lifting this suspension. This means hundreds of thousands of tenants will now be at risk of ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions.

We need the government to end Section 21, to protect tenants from eviction, but in the here and now, there are a number of tricks a tenant can use to throw out a section 21 on procedural grounds. So when you get a Section 21 – don’t panic.

Landlords often fail to issue the notice correctly. If any of the below hold, it’s grounds for an instant throwing out of the eviction notice.

  1. Deposit defence

If when you paid your deposit, your landlord didn’t protect it within 30 days of your tenancy starting and inform you in writing, then they are unable to issue a section 21 eviction notice, unless they return it to you.

Additionally, if they did protect it within 30 days but didn’t give you the prescribed information then they can’t issue you an eviction until they have. Has your landlord provided you with clear info on where your deposit is held, how it is protected and how you get it back at the end of your tenancy? That information can be found here.

If you’re unsure whether it is protected, check on one of the three protection scheme’s websites or give them a ring. The three schemes are mydeposits.co.uk, depositprotection.com and tenancydepositsscheme.com.

  1. Licence defence

If you live in a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) with 5 or more people not of the same family sharing bathrooms, kitchens or toilets, then the landlord needs a licence. If they don’t, they can’t issue a section 21.

Additionally – you might be living in an area where Selective Landlord Licensing has been brought in. If you have, then your landlord needs to be licensed, otherwise they can’t issue a section 21 either.

To check if your landlord is licensed, head over to your council website.

  1. Disrepair (retaliatory cases)

If in the previous six months before the landlord issues a section 21 notice, the council served either an improvement notice or an emergency remedial notice (for disrepair)  to the landlord – then the section 21 notice is invalid.

Similarly – if you have complained in writing to the landlord about disrepair, and they failed to respond and the council served a notice to them before the possession order was served, then the notice will become invalid and your landlord won’t be able to serve a valid section 21 notice.

These defences aren’t easy to make on your own though – so we’d always recommend seeking support and advice if you think this applies!

  1. Missing document defence

On October 1st 2015 a new law came into force. It stipulated that at the beginning of a tenancy, a landlord has to provide the tenant with a number of essential documents. If they didn’t, then they will be unable to issue a section 21 notice. Those documents are: the ‘How to Rent’ booklet, a Gas Safety certificate, or an energy performance rating.

Check to see if you have these documents. Not having been given them could be an easy defence to a Section 21 notice!

  1. Tenant Fees Act 2019 defences

If your tenancy began after June 1st 2019 you should be protected by the Tenant Fees Act. This outlawed certain charges by landlords and letting agents. If you have been charged any of these fees, and the landlord hasn’t refunded, then any section 21 is invalid.

They are

  • A deposit more than 5 weeks rent
  • A holding deposit of more than 1 weeks rent
  • Charges by your landlord for bills that weren’t included in your tenancy agreement (eg Gas, Electricity, TV Licence, Council Tax)
  • A fee more than £50 for a change to the tenancy agreement or new tenancy agreement
  • Interest on late rent of more than 3% over base rate.

Hopefully the above give you a quick overview of the quick defences that tenants are able to make when faced by a Section 21. Our main message would be – if you get a Section 21, don’t panic. There are a number of steps you can take. If any of these don’t make sense, always reach out to organisations who are there to support you.

Says the tenants union, totally misrepresenting the power relationship between tenants who actually now old all the power and landlords who have none: “At the end of the day, if we’re to rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords to one where tenants have power, we’re going to need to get organised. The solution is a collective one. Join a tenants union today.

Landlords you have been warned 

Phil Turtle M.Sc. Compliance Director

www.landlordsdefence.co.uk

Comments

Trisha

11:03 AM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

Tenants have missed a trick with what is really happening regarding section 21. Attempts to delay evictions using these methods is a short term solution to staying put for a few, but most landlords are too compliant for fall for any of these loopholes.
The bigger picture however.......when sec 21 (no fault)is abolished, all the evictions will be sec 8 (at fault). Remember most landlords used a sec 21 for speed cos sec 8 unfit for purpose! Once changed, the council can refuse any sec 8 tenant as they will be deemed to have made themselves intentionally homeless, it’s a gift for them.

John Mac

11:46 AM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

You are right Trisha, I said this at the outset of the "Tenant Bodies" campaigns to abolish Sec21, these bodies think they are being clever & "helping" Tenants, when in fact they are doing just the opposite & will lead to an increase in homeless families.

Not only will the councils be able to wash their hands of the "intentionally homeless" families but they will also carry CCJ's (if enforced by LL's) giving a warning to future potential LL's to not take them - a double edged sword.

I simple can't understand why these bodies purporting to help Tenants can't work with LL org's such as the NRLA to make the Ll/Tenant relationship a win/win which is to the good of all concerned.

NewYorkie

12:51 PM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by John Mac at 19/01/2021 - 11:46
These are the 'politics of envy'! Money-grabbing Rachman-like landlords Vs poor, down-trodden, disenfranchised tenants! These organisations are there to make a name for themselves as 'champions' of renters, obtain political kudos and appointments, charitable donations... Hence, the louder and more vociferous they are, the more visibility inside their echo-chamber they will be. Their actions rarely lead to long term benefits for renters, but they sound good. It's like Trump and Sturgeon inciting their deaf, dumb and blind lunatic supporters to do things which will inevitably lead to bad things happening to them. If these miscreants really do believe they will obtain social housing when they are eventually evicted, I know councils won't take them; they already have enough of their own!

Landlords will and are suffering, and many (including myself) will exit the sector ASAP. First, I need to remove the scumbag tenant who is doing whatever he can to stay living rent-free in my apartment while working and claiming SEISS as a self-employed decorator. 9 months and £5000 arrears and counting, plus legal fees to progress my S.8 notices for arrears and ASB. No doubt he will be trying it on with this new 'breathing space' scam!

Bill O'Dell

13:19 PM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by John Mac at 19/01/2021 - 11:46
I agree John Mac. It would be interesting to know what overtures the NRLA are making to Shelter, Tenants unions and the like to come to a consensus. If an agreement could be reached, then both organisations would work to the same goal. It's also a way of smoking out the irrelevant opposition by discrediting them.

DALE ROBERTS

15:35 PM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Trisha at 19/01/2021 - 11:03
They are not deemed "intentionally homeless" if they await the bailiffs as Shelter and Councils regularly advise - and the majority of tenants evicted for non payment of rental are very aware of this. It's the fastest route to a Council property. Especially if children are involved. And further, Courts are very reluctant to register CCJ's against defaulting tenants. If, as a landlord, you do not personally check that the Judgement has been noted in the Registry there is a very slim chance it is actually there. I speak from bitter experience.

Olivia F.

16:33 PM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

If you followed the law as a landlord this wouldn’t be an issue. Seems like the ones complaining are those who don’t serve paperwork when it’s meant to. None of these guidelines are new. Protect the deposit, give the epc, how to rent, gas safety etc. These are only tricks for landlords who are not compliant with the law. If you are tired of tenants and tricks perhaps you take up another business that doesn’t have rules!

John Mac

17:06 PM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by DALE ROBERTS at 19/01/2021 - 15:35
If the Tenantis are evicted for rent arrears then they are deemed Intentionally homeless.

CCj's are not recorded for Rent arrears unless enforcement proceedings for the debt are instigated i.e Bailiff or A.O.E etc

DALE ROBERTS

18:25 PM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by John Mac at 19/01/2021 - 17:06
Not if they wait for Bailiffs John. Been there and done that with a serial rogue tenant and have the rather grubby T-shirt to prove it. And yes .. I too was under the delusion that a Bailiff eviction WAS an enforcement and would ensure the registering of the CCJ. Not so. I had to personally approach the County Court and the Judge, who eventually granted my eviction after an 8 month fight with the tenant who aided by Shelter and Council delayed same, to have the CCJ registered. It is NOT automatic.

Paul Shears

21:24 PM, 19th January 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Olivia F. at 19/01/2021 - 16:33
I am and I fully intend to do so.
I have almost served the sentence for the crime that I did not commit.
The whole basis of what should be a mutually beneficial arrangement has become hopelessly flawed.
As this increasingly bureaucratic overhead has developed, so it has reflected what has happened in every other area of corporate life. The NHS, I.T., Financial institutions, everywhere I look. "All we need is just one more process to remove just one more potential for human judgement and the consequence of a defined individual taking responsibility."
So just carry on everyone.
Every time you get a problem in life, just fill out a form and pass it on to someone else.
This is still to be formalised fully in the rental business, but it will not be long now as both left and right wing governments desire it.
The rest of society is too busy worrying about the shopping queue in the supermarket, spending 8 hours/day trying to get from one location to another, attending meetings that add nothing to a first world country except resource consumption and the mentally crippling effects of ever more social construction.
At least that is what we will return to as soon as we are allowed to.
Now where to go?
Having been to 25 countries, I have almost not encountered one that is not intent on replicating the intellectual desert (With benefits that I value - cost benefit analysis ongoing) that is the first world.
The exceptions, being ageist, will not let me in.

DALE ROBERTS

9:50 AM, 20th January 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Olivia F. at 19/01/2021 - 16:33How dare you generalise. The majority of landlords are not only compliant but generously so. They are nevertheless, being forced into massive difficulties by more and more biased, punitive and onerous legislation that openly favours the tenant. I AM a compliant landlord. This did not assist me in any way in evicting a rogue tenant who accumulated almost GBP20 000 in arrears, excluding my legal costs and the complete refurbishment of a GBP500 000 fully furnished apartment. I could not salvage a piece of furniture from that unit. What wasn't destroyed was filthy. And I have not had one cent of that CCJ I fought so hard for paid back to me.
The industry as an investment vehicle has gotten progressively worse due to a strident and anti landlord collective headed by government that fails the private BTL market. And ultimately this short term fixation with destroying the BTL market will destroy private renting. The need for social housing has reached "pandemic" (pun intended) proportions. It is private landlords who are being forced to finance this. And nowhere, anywhere has the appropriation of private property ever benefited the poor.
As an addendum I sold the unit. It did not remain in the rental sector. And I have every intention of replicating this process with the second unit.
I have successfully removed two family units from the private rental pool.
I am done with being used.

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