Landlords beware – new changes to Section 21 notices!

  • October 16, 2015
  • By Hunters Law

For private residential landlords the Deregulation Act 2015 is about to make life more complicated when serving a Section 21 Notice to end a tenancy.

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 lies at the very heart of modern tenancy law in England and Wales.  The Act allows a landlord to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy (or AST) after the fixed term has expired on giving 2 months’ notice and no element of tenant default is required. If the relevant criteria apply, the landlord can use an accelerated possession procedure which does not involve a court hearing.

New provisions in the Deregulation Act 2015 have imposed restrictions on a landlord’s ability to give a section 21 notice to end an AST.   The Act applies to tenancies granted on or after October 1, 2015.  The new regulations are not retrospective and landlords will be pleased to hear that in the case of a tenancy that has become a statutory periodic tenancy upon the expiry of a tenancy granted before 1 October, 2015, the old section 21 regime will continue to apply.

The new changes may be summarised as follows:

  • For tenancies which commence on or after October 1, 2015 it will not be possible to give a section 21 notice in the first four months of the tenancy.  In the case of replacement tenancies; the relevant period is four months from the day on which the original tenancy commenced.
  • A section 21 notice will become invalid if it is not used as the basis for a possession claim within six months of being served.
  • A landlord will not be able to rely on a Section 21 notice if:

(a) the tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord regarding the condition of the premises or common parts before a notice is given; and

(b) the landlord has not responded, or its response is inadequate.

  • Section 21 notices will not be valid where a landlord has failed to comply with certain legal requirements such as ensuring Energy Performance Certificates and Gas Safety Certificates are in place.
  • There will be an obligation on landlords to provide information about the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant under an AST.

If you would like advice on any aspect of property law, please contact the partner at Hunters having responsibility for your legal matters, or (for new enquiries) please contact a member of our Property team.

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