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I want to issue a S21 in person - do I need a witness?

Question

I would like to issue my tenant with a section 21 notice, and think the safest way is to do this in person to make sure that they receive it. Should I take a witness along to prove that i have served them the notice correctly?

Answer

Ah, it’s never a nice situation – but it is understandable that you are choosing to serve your notice by hand. Whilst not always the most pleasant of procedures, physically handing the document to your tenant ensures that they have received it, you’re not at the mercy of any third-party issues, such as postal strikes!

However, whilst you can be sure that your tenant has received the document, should the situation progress to court there is no guarantee that a judge would know the same. Your tenant may choose to argue that they never received the document in a bid to extend the time thy can remain in the property – this is why it’s a great idea to have an independent witness with you when you serve the notice. The witness should be someone who would be prepared to sign a witness statement, which could be called upon as important evidence in court.

A witness statement doesn’t have to be a complex document, just a simple written statement from your witness stating that they saw ‘X’ (you) delivering a Section 21 notice to ‘the property’ (address). It should be signed as a ‘Statement of Truth’, and signed, dated and their name clearly printed.

As you are asking someone to provide this potentially valuable evidence for you, you need to make sure your witness is impartial, over the age of 18, in full mental health and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of witnessing you handing over the notice!

If you would prefer not to attend the property, there are other options to serve a section 21 though. You can serve a tenant notice by post, as long as you obtain a receipt for proof of postage from the Post Office.

One important thing to remember though, is that you cannot serve notices digitally. An email will not suffice in this instance! You could back up your preferred option of service with an email saying something along the lines of: ‘just to confirm you received the section 21 notice ok this morning – if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me’. If your tenant replies to this email, either with a question about the notice or just in confirmation of receipt you have further date-stamped proof that they received the notice, should the case proceed to court.

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