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Changes to procedures to end a residential tenancy

November 2015

Practical tips for residential landlords following the introduction of extra protection for tenants.

On 1 October 2015, changes came into force that place further restrictions on when and how a landlord can serve a notice ending an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

The changes

The new provisions include:

  • Restricting a landlord from taking retaliatory action. A landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice when a tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord about the condition of the premises or the common parts of the building and the landlord has not responded, or has given an inadequate response.
  • Introducing a new prescribed form of section 21 notice.  This must be used where this procedure now applies, so you should ensure that any agent you use does not simply continue with their existing procedure.  We can supply a copy of the prescribed form of notice if you need.
  • Preventing a landlord from serving a section 21 notice unless it has provided the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate and a gas safety certificate.
  • Preventing a landlord from serving a section 21 notice unless it has provided the tenant with prescribed information. To satisfy this requirement the landlord must give the tenant a copy of DCLG: How to rent: The checklist for renting in England.  This can be found online and may be sent to the tenant by email.
  • Granting a tenant the right to a rent apportionment of rent paid in advance, in respect of a period falling after a section 21 notice brings the tenancy to an end.
  • Removing the need for a landlord to specify in a section 21 notice the last day of a period of the tenancy as the date on which the tenancy comes to an end, including in relation to a section 21(4) notice.
  • Preventing a landlord from serving a section 21 notice in the first four months of the AST.
  • Restricting any claim for an order for possession, so that it must be started within six months' from the date the section 21 notice was given, or if a section 21(4) notice giving more than two months’ notice was given, four months from the date specified in that notice. A fresh section 21 notice will have to be served if possession proceedings have not been started within these time limits.

 

What do the changes apply to?

The changes will only apply to ASTs granted on or after 1 October 2015. The changes will not apply to a fixed term AST granted prior to 1 October 2015 even if, after that date, the fixed term AST becomes a statutory periodic tenancy.

However, from 1 October 2018, the new rules will apply to any AST irrespective of when it was created (except for the requirement for the landlord to provide prescribed information about the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant under the AST).

Practical tips for landlords

  1. The changes may catch out an unprepared landlord and delay getting possession of a property. It would be best practice to provide the prescribed information, Energy Performance Certificate and gas certificate at the start of an AST, to make sure that these requirements have been satisfied.
  2. Landlords should also be aware (and make their managing agents aware) that the previously common practice of serving a section 21 notice on the first day of a tenancy must be stopped. Any notice served within the first four months of the tenancy will be invalid. A landlord will also have to be aware of the earliest date that a section 21 notice can be served, if the landlord wants to end the tenancy as soon as the contractual period ends.
  3. Landlords will also have to be more proactive in issuing possession proceedings if a tenant does not vacate the premises by the date set out in the section 21 notice. If the landlord has not issued proceedings within six months of the date the notice is given or, if a section 21(4) notice was served requiring more than two months to be given, within four months of that date, the landlord will have lost the right to do so based on that notice and a fresh notice will have to be served.

 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Rachel Meredith or any member of the Wrigleys' Property team on 0113 244 6100.

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors

 

October 2015

 

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Rachel Meredith

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