Changes on Section 21 Notices to Terminate ASTs
From 1 October 2015 a number of important provisions of the Deregulation Act 2015 come into force affecting Residential Landlords with properties in England. (The provisions do not apply in Wales.) The changes are summarised below and our template documents and guidance have been updated to reflect the new law. The new and updated documents will be available on the Simply-docs website from 1 October.
Please note that the changes referred to below initially only apply to tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015. From 1 October 2018, they will apply to all tenancies regardless of when they were entered into.
Standard form of Section 21 Notice
Until now there has been no prescribed form of Section 21 Notice. A prescribed form has now been introduced. This will be added to the Terminating Tenancies section of our Residential Landlords document folder. It only has to be used for tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015, but we anticipate that most landlords will adopt the new form for all tenancies.
Timing of service of Section 21 Notice and deadline for starting proceedings
From 1 October, a Section 21 Notice may not be served in the first 4 months of a tenancy. This is to stop the practice of some landlords and agents who issue a Section 21 Notice at the start of the tenancy.
There is a new deadline for starting possession proceedings if the tenant does not vacate. Proceedings must be started within 6 months of the date of service of the Section 21 Notice.
From 1 October 2015, new restrictions on the service of Section 21 Notice come into force relating to “retaliatory eviction”. This term describes the situation where an assured shorthold tenant makes a valid complaint about the condition of the property and the landlord, instead of addressing the complaint, serves a Section 21 Notice to remove the tenant.
If the local authority serves an improvement notice or an emergency remedial action notice under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS), no Section 21 Notice may be served for 6 months.
If the local authority serves a notice under the HHSRS after a Section 21 Notice has been served, but where the tenant had made a complaint about the condition of the property before service of the Section 21 Notice, that Section 21 Notice will be invalid.
Other restrictions on serving a Section 21 Notice
Other restrictions on serving a Section 21 Notice have been introduced. A Section 21 Notice may not be served if the landlord has failed to provide the tenant with:
• A valid energy performance certificate.
• A current gas safety certificate.
• A copy of the publication “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
To help landlords ensure that they comply with these requirements, we are adding new template letters to our portfolio which landlords can send to tenants at the beginning of the tenancy and when a new gas safety certificate is issued.
Other provisions coming into effect on 1 October 2015 are:
• If there has been an overpayment of rent at the termination date, the tenant will be entitled to a proportionate refund. For example, if the tenant has paid rent for the calendar month but the tenancy ends on the 15th, there will be a refund of the rent overpaid.
• A Section 21 Notice relating to a periodic tenancy will no longer need to specify a termination date that is the last day of a period of the tenancy.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.