The new provisions outlined in the Deregulation Act 2015 imposed restrictions on the Landlord’s ability to give a section 21 notice to end a tenancy.
The rules will only apply to new assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) entered into on or after 1st October 2015. In the case of a statutory periodic tenancy arising on the expiry of a fixed-term tenancy which was created before 1st October 2015, landlords in that situation may be pleased to learn that the old section 21 regime will continue to apply.
Here, we outline the changes landlords need to comply with to prevent possible penalties that may be imposed.
For tenancies which begin on or after 1 October 2015 it is not possible to serve a section 21 notice on the tenant in the first four months of the statutory fixed term. However, this will make it practically impossible for the landlord to correctly serve the notice for the tenant to leave at the end of the fixed term.
The new provisions state that possession proceedings must be commenced within six months of the service of the section 21 notice.
A new prescribed form should be used for any new tenancy available here
Where a tenant complains about the conditions of the property in writing, the landlord will have to respond within 14 days setting out what he intends to do and the time scale. If the landlord (a) fails to reply or (b) replies by serving a section 21 notice or (c) gives an inadequate reply, then the tenant may complain to the local authority who in turn must inspect the property.
If the local authority serves an improvement notice on the landlord then a landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice for 6 months from the date of service of the improvement notice and any section 21 notice already served will be invalid however, there is a very limited exception to this.
Under the regulations the landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice when he/she has not done either of the following new requirements:
– Provide the tenant with an energy performance certificate.
– Provide the tenant with a copy of the gas safety certificate.
– Landlords must supply the tenant with a copy of the department for communities and local government booklet on how to rent: the checklist for renting in England.
When can a section 21 notice not be used?
A section 21 notice cannot be used where
– The tenant has resided in the property for less than four months
– The Landlord is prevented from retaliatory eviction;
– The Landlord has not complied with the legal requirements under the Regulations
– The Landlord has not protected the tenant’s deposit under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme
– Where the property requires a licence but is unlicensed.
Impact on Landlords
The changes does could potentially lead to more court hearings which raises the question as to whether the court service has the capacity. More pressure could be placed on the local authority to inspect the properties in time and serve the appropriate notice in response.
The majority of landlords only choose to end a tenancy if it is absolutely necessary and there are concerns that further red tape could make it easier for tenants to abuse and prolong the evictions process.
Landlord bodies have criticised the government for bringing in the new rules, and the National Landlords Association (NLA) is calling on local councils to provide a clear framework for how they plan to inspect properties, serve the appropriate notice in response and deal with any complaints.
If you require further information, please contact Berin Jones or Hayley Wharton on 0161 761 4611.