Changes to Section 21 Notices from 01 October 2015

Article

23 September, 2015

The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements Regulations (England) Regulations 2015 ('the Regulations') were laid before parliament on 09 September 2015 and come into force on 01 October 2015.

From 01 October 2015, any landlord serving a notice under Section 21(1) or (4) of the Housing Act 1988 (a notice to end an assured shorthold tenancy) must use the new prescribed Form 6A in relation to tenancies granted on or after 01 October 2015. A copy of the regulations can be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/1646/pdfs/uksi_20151646_en.pdf

On 30 September 2015, new urgent amending regulations were issued to correct a mistake at paragraph 3 of the form initially published. The amendments to the regulations with the new Form 6A can be found at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/1725/made?wb48617274=8662B399

The explanatory memorandum explaining what they got wrong, and some other minor amendments, can be found at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/1725/memorandum/contents

New Requirements

In addition to a new prescribed form, the regulations also impose a number of requirements which landlords must comply with before they can serve a section 21 notice on their tenants. These include:

  • A requirement to provide an energy performance certificate to the tenant (Regulation 2)
  • A requirement to provide the tenant with a gas safety certificate (Regulation 2)
  • A requirement for private landlords to provide new tenants with prescribed information - "How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England" (Regulation 3)

Restrictions

As well as imposing new requirements on landlords as discussed above, the new section 21 notice also imposes a number restrictions on landlords. Therefore, a s.21 notice cannot be served on tenancies granted on or after 01 October 2015 in the following circumstances:

  • In the first 4 months' of the tenancy
  • Where the tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord regarding the condition of the property and the landlord has not provided an adequate response within 14 days

In addition to the above restrictions, from 01 October 2015 a section 21 notice will only be valid for 6 months. If possession proceedings have not been issued within 6 months, the landlord will then have to serve a fresh section 21 notice.

Retaliatory Evictions

From 01 October 2015, the Deregulation Act 2015 will impose restrictions on landlords who want to serve section 21 notices in response to complaints of disrepair. In order to avoid retaliatory evictions, section 33 of the Deregulation Act 2015 provides that a section 21 notice cannot be served if:

  • The tenant has made a written complaint to their landlord regarding the condition of the property before the service of a section 21 regarding the condition of the property; and
  • The landlord has not provided an adequate written response to the complaint within 14 days; and
  • The tenant has reported the condition of the property to their local authority who has served an Improvement Notice or Emergency Remedial Notice.

Pro-Rata Rent Repayment

The final changes being introduced on 01 October 2015, relate to the tenant being reimbursed for rent paid in advance. Section 40 of the Deregulation Act 2015 will introduce a statutory requirement for landlords to repay rent to assured shorthold tenants on a pro-rata basis, where rent has been paid in advance for a rental period but where a section 21 notice expires part way through the rental period and the tenant ceases to be in occupation for the remainder of period.

Conclusion

These new rules will only apply to new assured shorthold tenancies entered into on or after 01 October 2015. In the case of a statutory periodic tenancy following on from the expiry of a fixed term tenancy which started before 01 October 2015, the old section 21 procedure will continue to apply to the periodic tenancy.

Landlords will need to ensure that their existing systems, processes and policies reflect the changes in the law and landlords will need to understand their new rights and obligations in order to avoid being unable to rely upon a section 21 notice when seeking to recover possession of their property.

For further information please contact Bethany Paliga on 01772 220022.

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