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New guidance on use of section 21 notices

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The introduction of the Deregulation Act 2015, which received Royal Assent on 27 March, has changed the law regarding how landlords can use of section 21 notices.

law-changesBut the good news for landlords is many of the changes to the law do not come into force until 1 October.

One of the aims of the Deregulation Act was to prevent landlords using s21 notices to evict tenants in retaliation for complaining about the condition of the property.

Therefore, the new laws now state that from 1 October, if a landlord serves a section 21 notice on a tenant in response to a complaint about the condition of the property, the tenant can report the matter to the local housing authority.

Not only that, local councils have been given the power to serve an enforcement notice on the landlord, setting out “a reasonable timescale” for improvement works to be carried out.

In such cases, the original section 21 is invalid and landlords cannot issue a second section 21 within six months of an enforcement notice being served.

Other restrictions on the use of possession notices that will come into force on 1 October include…

  • Landlords will no longer be allowed to serve an s21 notice within the first four months of issuing an assured shorthold tenancy. This removes a landlord’s right to issue an s21 notice at the start of a tenancy – a tactic sometimes used to save time waiting for an AST to expire before issuing proceedings
  • An s21 notice must be used within six months of it being served. Failure to do this will result in the possession notice becoming invalid and a new one being required.
  • When a landlord has issued a periodic tenancy, they will no longer be required to serve a notice ending on its last day.
  • When a landlord has used an s21 notice to remove a tenant, the former occupants will have a statutory right to claim back rent paid in advance.

Other parts of the Deregulation Act affecting the use of s21 notices that are in the pipeline include…

  • Failure to provide tenants with information about their rights and responsibilities under the tenancy agreement, or to obtain Energy Performance or Gas Safety certificates, will prevent landlords from issuing an s21 notice.
  • Landlords will require a new prescribed form for a notice served under section 21.

These changes will only apply to England and for the time being will not affect ASTs where the fixed term was granted before these changes came into force. However, three years after the date the new rules come into force they will apply to all ASTs in existence.

The Deregulation Act also introduces a number of changes to the rules affecting the protection of tenant deposits, which Assetgrove will investigate in the next blog post.

But we would advise landlords that this guide, and the one to follow next week, should not be relied upon as legal advice and you should seek professional advice on your specific circumstances.

Here at Assetgrove we take the stress out of managing your tenancies. Not only do we offer a rent guarantee for up to five years; but we’ll also take all of the inevitable headaches out of the day-to-day business of managing properties, including handling and registering tenant deposits.

Neil Jennings

Neil is the Operations Director at Assetgrove Lettings, London's Leading Rent Guarantee Company, providing Landlords with no voids, property maintenance, fee-free property management and stress-free service.

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