As most Landlords of private residential accommodation will be aware a section 21 notice under the Housing Act 1988 (“s.21 Notice”) can be a useful tool in removing an unwanted tenant. With a s.21 Notice there is no need to show any fault of the tenant or breach of the tenancy (e.g. non-payment of rent) – the key points that need to be established are that the fixed term tenancy has come to an end and that at least 2 months’ notice has been given to the tenant.
It has long been established (if the tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) that began after 6 April 2007) that in order for a s.21 Notice to be valid that any deposit received needs to be protected in one of the approved schemes and that the prescribed information regarding the deposit (and any dispute regarding the deposit) has been provided to the tenant. Further information on this point can be found on the Government website here.
After certain parts of the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force, a number of new factors are required to be adhered to in order to ensure that any s.21 Notice served is valid (the requirement to protect the deposit as described above remains). The following changes apply to all ASTs entered into on or after 1st October 2015:-
1. There is now a prescribed form of s.21 Notice.
2. Any ambiguity about the s.21 Notice having to terminate on the last day of a period of the tenancy has been removed. It is now clear that all that is required is 2 months’ notice (however, the tenant may be entitled to a rent rebate for any rent paid in advance in respect of any period between a s.21 Notice being served and a tenant vacating the property).
3. You need to be able to prove that a Gas Safety check has been carried out within the previous 12 months and that a copy of that Gas Safety Certificate has been sent to the tenant.
4. You need to be able to prove that the tenant has been sent the Government leaflet “How to Rent”. This is updated online regularly and the most recent version can be found by clicking here.
5. You need to prove that an Energy Performance Certificate has been obtained for the Property and sent to the tenant.
The above key points are a summary of the changes. There are also additional provisions for when a s.21 Notice can or cannot be served.
The requirements will eventually apply to all ASTs (entered into on or after 1st October 2018). So with regards points 3-5 above it is probably good practice to ensure that these requirements are met for all existing tenants.
Please contact our Mr Stuart Thomas if you want to discuss any of these issues further on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0151 649 1795.