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Landlords: Are you compliant with the Deregulation Act 2015?
- AuthorHelen Porter
When a landlord wishes to evict their tenant, it is vital that they follow the correct procedure for doing so, in order to avoid any unnecessary delays and wasted costs. This is particularly important given the upcoming changes in the law regarding landlords’ use of the procedure under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Helen Porter, Partner in our Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, explains the changes in the law, and the steps landlords must take to ensure they are compliant.
On 26 March 2015, Parliament passed new legislation in the form of the Deregulation Act 2015 (‘the Act’) which sought to provide more protection for tenants facing eviction by their landlords who wish to terminate their tenancy under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
The Act introduced further requirements that landlords must comply with in order to terminate a tenancy via a Section 21 Notice. These requirements currently apply to all Assured Shorthold Tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015.
However, from 1 October 2018, the legislation will become applicable to all Assured Shorthold Tenancies, regardless of the date they were granted.
Validity of a Section 21 notice
A Section 21 notice is an invaluable tool for a landlord as it enables you to serve your tenant with two months notice to vacate the property (to take effect no earlier than the last day of the tenancy) without having to specify a reason for doing so. The Act requires you to comply with the following requirements before you can serve a valid Section 21 notice to your tenant:
- Where your tenant has raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of the property, prior to being served with a Section 21 notice, they will be protected from retaliatory eviction (i.e. you serving them with a Section 21 notice in response to the complaint). You must therefore be sure to remedy any legitimate complaint made by your tenant about the condition of the property, prior to serving them with a Section 21 notice.
- A Section 21 notice to determine a contractual fixed term tenancy may not be given within the first four months of the tenancy. You must therefore wait the requisite four month period before serving your tenant with a Section 21 notice. You should also bear in mind that a Section 21 notice cannot expire during the fixed term of a tenancy.
- You must comply with certain legal obligations, including providing tenants with gas safety and energy performance certificates prior to commencement of the tenancy. You must provide tenants with certain prescribed information relating to your rights and responsibilities as well as their rights and responsibilities under an AST, as set out in the DCLG: How to rent Checklist for renting in England.
- Finally, where you have failed to protect a tenant’s deposit under one of the government recognised schemes and provide the prescribed information, within 30 days of receiving it, you will be prevented from serving a valid Section 21 notice until you have provided the prescribed information and returned the deposit to your tenant. If you have failed to protect your tenant’s deposit within 30 days, you may be required to pay a fine to your tenant, or other relevant person, up to three times the amount of the original deposit.
Helen comments, “It is extremely important that you familiarise yourself with the requirements of the Act so that, should the need arise to terminate a tenancy by way of serving a Section 21 Notice, you are not prevented from doing so. Failure to comply with the necessary requirements may see you prevented from recovering possession of your property for periods of up to six months, or in some cases indefinitely.”
If you are a landlord seeking advice on evicting your tenant, you can contact Helen or the team for assistance on 023 8071 7425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.