Residential Landlord & Tenant Update

Some of the rules relating to Section 21 notices change on 1 October 2015.

A number of changes to Section 21 notices come into force through the Deregulation Act 2015, and the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015. The changes include the following:

  1. A prescribed form for Section 21 notices must be used. This can be found in the Schedule of the 2015 Regulations. 
  2. Landlord may not now use a Section 21 notice as a “retaliatory evection” method. For example, if a Landlord has received written notice from a Tenant detailing a complaint about the condition of a property, which the Landlord has not within 14 days acted upon, they risk their notice being treated as invalid.
  3. There is now no requirement for a Section 21 notice to expire on the last date of a period of a tenancy. It is sufficient to give 2 months’ notice. 
  4. A Section 21 notice cannot now be served within the first 4 months of a tenancy.
  5. A possession claim cannot be started after 6 months from the date that a Section 21 notice was served.
  6. No Section 21 notice can be given unless the Tenant has been provided with the Energy Performance Certificate and a current gas safety certificate for the property.

Deposit Schemes

The Deregulation Act 2015 has also introduced new provisions into the protection of tenancy deposits. Those changes include: 

  1. A deposit only needs to be protected once. In times gone by, there has been a degree of uncertainty for Landlords, where an Assured Shorthold Tenancy changes from a fixed term AST to a period AST, through default. Should the deposit be protected again? Parliament has now clarified that a deposit should only be protected the once, irrespective of the number of renewals.
  2. Any deposit taken by a Landlord from a Tenant must be protected before a Section 21 notice may effectively be served.A deposit taken prior to 2007 need only be protected prior to a Section 21 notice being served. 

A reminder of the Landlord’s obligations: 

Upon receipt of a deposit, within 14 days: 

  • Register it in an authorised scheme; and
  • Having registered in the scheme, serve the prescribed information and certificate on the Tenant. Best practice would be to ask the Tenant to sign and date a copy of the prescribed information and certificate. 

    A reminder of the risks for Landlord that fail to fulfil their obligations: 

  • Liable for the return of the deposit to the Tenant;
  • Liable for compensation to the Tenant, equivalent to 3 times the amount of the deposit; and
  • Any notice requiring possession of the property will be deemed invalid. 

    Our Services 

    We act for both Landlord and Tenants in Residential Possession Claims. Should you need any further assistance, please contact our Jak Ward on 01332 225426 or at jak.ward@smithpartnership.co.uk.