Fresource Friday: housing options letters to a private landlord about a section 21 notice

18.08.2017

Do you work for a housing options team? Do you often need to write to private landlords when housing applicants have received a section 21 notice? If so, you might find these letters useful.

Illustration of two people talking

Perhaps you've put my notice validity checker to good use and established that a section 21 notice can't be relied upon to obtain a possession order.

Or you might just be trying to contact a landlord to discuss what's caused them to serve notice and see whether the tenancy can be saved.

Talking is usually better 

Of course a phone call is often better in these situations. Especially when you're trying to establish the facts of the case, and explain how you might be able to help.

However a letter is often necessary, e.g. if you only have the landlord's address or you need to confirm what's been discussed in writing.

Select the version you need

There are two letters you can download for free:*

To advise or not to advise?

The second letter is more detailed than the first because it's for when you've established that the notice is defective (or of no legal effect).

One of the things this letter does is help you to specify the reason why you've concluded that the landlord would not be entitled to a possession order.

But how far should you go with advising the landlord if you work for a local authority homelessness team?

When I worked for a council I'd sometimes come across landlords who wanted me to check notices for them before they served them! And some landlords would get rather irate when they'd served a second notice only for me to say "Er, I'm afraid this one's invalid too". It isn't unknown for landlords to think that their difficulties in understanding the (admittedly complex) rules are somehow the council's fault.

If a landlord isn't sure of the legislation governing the letting of properties they should be advised to get legal advice. While local authorities must advise members of the public who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, it's not their role to advise landlords on obtaining possession.

Certainly, councils need to encourage good working relationships with private landlords. And we don't want to be (or appear to be) unhelpful or obstructive.

I often found that it was worth telling landlords that the national landlord associations (RLA and NLA) provide free legal helplines as part of their membership fee. For a landlord who's willing to apply for possession themselves (rather than instructing a solicitor) this works out a hell of lot cheaper. And even if they're not likely to apply for possession themselves the legal helplines make the annual subscription remarkably good value for money.

Welsh versions

There are alternative versions of the letters if you work in Wales:

How to download

To download the letters you'll need to:

  1. work for a local authority or housing association in England or Wales;
  2. create an account using your work email address;
  3. wait for a second confirmation email; and
  4. go to the relevant pages in the Resources section.

Training 

For staff needing information about the technicalities governing section 21 notices I offer a one-day training course. The training includes exercises that help attendees apply the legal rules and learn about additional ways of preventing homelessness.

Comments or questions?

Feel free to forward any comments you have about the letters or contact me if you have any difficulty in creating an account.

* If you work for a council or housing association. The letters are free to download for a limited time. 

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