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Help! Section 21 advice?


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Hi All

I'm new to the forum so looking for advice, our situation is below and we're wondering how best to proceed to help our tenant and to make sure we are ok and covered -

Tenant was due to have the property till April but her situation has changed and she can't pay the rent, she has a 9 month old baby. She wants to move back in with her Mum and then get council house. We've all agreed, happily, that we will bring the end date of the tenancy to the end of Jan and that her deposit can cover her rent. We are happy for her to not pay and we can claim back the deposit once she's moved out.

We will advertise property and if can get someone in sooner then she can move out and get some deposit back. Couple of viewings already set up.

Now, she has spoken to housing solutions and they have said that if she moved out voluntarily then she will not be entitled to help in getting a council property and they have advised her she needs a section 21 notice from us.

I've had look online and it seems we can issue this before the end of the tenancy but I just wanted to check if there is any reason why we shouldn't do this? Is there anywhere we can read up on this for more information?

Just looking for experiences, we want to help her if we can as she's been a lovely tenant but we need to know we're ok too and don't lose out on the financial side?

Thanks in advance

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The Section 21 is to terminate an AST at the end of the fixed term. You must give two months notice. You can issue a Section 21 at any time during the fixed term. You will only have problems if your tenant fails to leave once the Section 21 expires. If she has emailed you confirming her intentions and you have agreed, then it's probably a good thing that you have it in writing (emails are admissible as evidence in court). Sounds like you won't have any problems in that regard.

What you might have a problem with, is if she leaves and there are issues with cleanliness, damage, unpaid bills or disconnected services. If you consume the deposit as rent (and if the deposit is properly protected in a custodial or insurance based scheme, as it should be by law) then you're not really supposed to use the deposit against rent - and what she says now may be all fine, but if she disputes the use of the deposit later, you're up sh*t creek without a paddle.

It really depends on whether you want to trust the tenant to make good on her promises, or is she under so much financial pressure that she's looking for any way out?

The best thing to do is stick to the standard rules - you can release her from the contract early, which would mean you haven't used the deposit and if there are damages you can still keep it to pay for them.

If you're looking to re-let and don't want to pay huge fees, try going solo. There's loads of resources out there to help you so you can avoid agents fees. Failing that, try a company such as Visum Ltd.

if you need any further legal help I'd suggest speaking to a local conveyancing/property solicitor.

Hope it works out


Managing Consultant

Evolve Property Training


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Hi Alasdair

Thanks for the reply, the house is in a good state, she's really looked after it and is quite house proud so not worried there, the deposit is protected - I thought there was a way to put in a claim for the deposit to cover rent arrears though? Would it be worth us getting something in writing from her saying that she has agreed for the deposit to cover her rent arrears?

I suppose I can ask for evidence that bills have been paid, or get it from her in writing again... if that's even possible? lol

Ideally we don't want to release her from the property immediately as then we're out of rent money, the idea was we would meet her in the middle, she could move out earlier than April and we'd get some time to find new tenants.

I've got the number for housing solutions so will ring them in the morning and thanks we stopped using agents some time ago and manage it all ourselves so avoid all those fees!

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The council will almost certainly not just require a section 21 notice - they will require the subseqent possession order from the court.

If the tenant leaves at the end of a section 21 notice she will almost certainly be regarded as voluntarily homeless because a section 21 notice does not oblige your tenant to leave, nor end the tenancy.

Unfortunately, an application to the court before the end of the fixed term is destined to fail (because that doesn't comply with statute) and even if you apply after the end of the fixed term, you are talking 6 weeks(ish) before possession date - and there is no guarantee the council will re-home her until the bailiffs are due - which can be a further 6/10 weeks.

Obtaining a court order will cost you £175 and organising bailiffs £110 (plus any support costs you incur) - how much do you want to help your tenant?

TBH, as nice as the tenant is, if she can not afford the rent, she is a risk for you. You are not in business to take unnecessary risk. Forget working for her benefit, start encouraging her to do that - perhaps by looking for a private rent she can afford. Does she really want a CCJ for unpaid rent when right now she can get a great reference from you. Is there any help you can give her obtaining a new place? If she is on housing benefit then she can claim benefit on 2 places for a while - indeed, she may be able to claim a discretionary housing payment to cover the difference between herbenefit & the rent due for the balance of the contract.

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