landlord and tenant law

The Deregulation Act 2015 changes to Section 21 notice procedure

On 1 October 2015 changes to the section 21 notice procedure introduced by the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force.

The revised rules impose further restrictions on when a landlord can serve and enforce a section 21 notice for residential properties let on assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs). A section 21 notice is a notice ending a residential AST.

The changes only apply to ASTs granted on or after 1 October 2015 and to properties in England.

So what does that mean to you?

The Housing Act 1988 section 21 notice procedure has been amended from 1st October 2015.

The changes include, amongst other things, further restrictions on when and how a landlord can serve a section 21 notice ending an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). The main changes:

Landlords now have a stronger legal obligation to ensure their properties are kept in good order. They are required to maintain their properties to an acceptable standard, throughout the tenancy. A section 21 notice cannot be issued if the tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord about the condition of the property or the common parts of the building and the landlord has not responded, or has given an inadequate response.

A Section 21 Notice ending a residential AST cannot be served until month four of a tenancy. Therefore, the Notice can no longer be issued at the start of an AST or during the first four months of the AST.

There are new time limits for starting a claim for an order for possession. This must be started within six months from the date the section 21 notice was given. If a section 21(4) notice was given (giving more than two monthsí notice), this limit is four months from the date given in that notice. A new section 21 notice will have to be served if possession proceedings have not been started within these time limits.

A new prescribed form of the section 21 notice has been introduced and the landlord is not now required to specify in a section 21 notice the last day of a period of the tenancy as the date on which the tenancy comes to an end.

A landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice unless they have provided the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate or a gas safety certificate. A landlord must also have provided the tenant with certain information including a copy of DCLG: How to rent: The checklist for renting in England.

The tenant has the right to a rent apportionment of rent paid in advance, for the period that falls after a section 21 notice brings the tenancy to an end.

Our advice to Landlords

It is important for landlords to be aware of the changes in legislation and to follow the new procedures to avoid any delay in getting possession of their property.

It would be good practice to provide the prescribed information, energy performance certificate and gas certificate at the start of an AST as this would then ensure these requirements have been satisfied.

Remember too that you are required to maintain your properties to an acceptable standard, throughout the tenancy.

As a Landlord, you and your managing agents need to be aware that the new prescribed form of notice must be used when ending an AST granted on or after 1 October 2015.

Please note that a section 21 notice cannot now be served on the first day of a tenancy as any notice served within the first four months of the tenancy will be invalid. You will need to be aware of the earliest date you can serve a section 21 notice if you want the tenancy to end as soon as the contractual period ends.

If a tenant does not vacate your property by the dates given in the section 21 notice you will have to be more proactive in issuing possession proceedings because of the new time limits now in place.

Landlords should also ensure they follow the rules in place to protect their tenantís deposits.

If you need any further advice on any rental property issues do contact us.

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