Landlords Beware: Recent changes affecting Section 21 procedure – The Deregulation Act 2015

Whether or not there are tenant arrears, the landlord may need to take necessary steps to regain possession of the property. Therefore landlords must be constantly on top of the forever changing legislation with regards to buy-to-let market: from tenant ID checks to deposits protection and ending with property repossession.

As the rules and regulations on the buy to let market are constantly changing unaware landlords are finding it more and more difficult to repossess their property, especially because of missing essential items at the beginning and during the tenancy. This article is looking to shed some light over The Deregulation Act 2015 and how it affects landlords and property owners on the residential property market.

The Deregulation Act 2015 has brought in some significant changes which significantly restricts the way in which landlords can serve a section 21 notice. The Act applies to all AST’s (i.e. Assured Shorthold Tenancy) granted on or after 1 October 2015 in England only, although it is important to be aware that from 1 October 2018 the new rules will apply to any AST regardless of when it was created (apart from the requirement mentioned below at number 6 relating to the information guide booklet). The Act restricts the way in which landlords can serve a section 21 notice.

The changes that affect landlords wishing to repossess their property by serving a Section 21 notice are as follows:

1. A prescribed form of section 21 notice must be used, this is known as a Form 6a and can be found, along with guidance notes on the www.gov.uk website. Form 6a cannot be served within the first four months of a tenancy and is only valid for 6 months following the date of issue.

2. A Landlord is no longer required to state the last day of a period of the tenancy as the date on which the tenancy comes to an end in a section 21(4) notice.

3. A section 21 notice may not be given to a tenant where a landlord is not compliant with any law relating to:

a.  The condition of the property or common parts;

b. The health and safety of tenants in the property, this may include for example obligations relating to gas safety certificates; or

c. energy performance, such as compliance with an obligations relating to energy performance certificates.

4. If the tenant raises a legitimate complaint regarding the condition of the property with the landlord which remains unresolved, a tenant can contact the local housing authority who may serve a notice on the landlord, requesting that the matter be remedied. If the local housing authority serve a notice on the landlord, any section 21 notice served by the landlord following the complaint from the tenant, will be invalidated and the landlord will be unable to evict the tenant for 6 months using the section 21 procedure. This penalty may be avoided where the landlord responds to the tenant’s complaint and remedies the issue by carrying out relevant repairs.

5. Where a section 21 notice has been served the tenant may be entitled to a rent rebate for rent paid in advance where the tenant has vacated the property.

6. A landlord must give to the tenant a document entitled, ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Best practice would be to issue to guide upon creating the tenancy, otherwise as soon as practicably possible. The document may be given as a hard copy, or if the tenant has notified the landlord that he or she is willing to accept service of documents relating to the tenancy via email, then the document may be sent via e-mail.

Property repossession legislation is becoming increasingly complex each year; TDR aims to assist landlords both effectively and efficiently, by looking at each case individually and assessing how we can best help landlords and property owners. Dependent upon their particular situation TDR aims to provide an outstanding and tailored level of service.

If you have any questions relating to the changes brought into effect by the Deregulation Act 2015, or anything else you require assistance with, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via email info@tdra.co.uk and a member of our team will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

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