Major Changes In The Way Landlords Serve Section 21 Notices
The Deregulation Act 2015 came into force on the 1 October 2015 and brings with it some substantial changes for Landlords.
It has changed the way in which Section 21 Notices can be served on tenants and added additional responsibilities for the Landlord.
The changes are only affecting any Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST’s) which commence on or after the 1 October 2015. Any AST’s that commenced before the 1 October 2015 will proceed as usual until the changes come into force for them in 2018.
AST’s commencing on or after 1 October 2015:
At the start of any fixed term AST the tenants must now be provided with the following
- Gas Safety Certificate
- Energy Performance Certificate
- A copy of the document ‘How to rent: The checklist for renting in England’.
Section 21 Notices
- When serving a Section 21 notice these can not only be served after the first four months of the tenancy and must be in the ‘prescribed form’.
- All Section 21 Notices will now expire after 6 months which starts to run at the date of service.
- If the local authority has served the Landlord with a health and safety improvement notice then the Landlord cannot serve a notice for a further 6 months.
If a tenant makes a complaint about the state of their property then the Landlord must now respond within 14 days. In their response they much outlined how they intend to rectify these issues along with providing a timescales for the work to be carried out.
If the Landlord fails to respond to their complaints, does not provide a full response or chooses to serve a Section 21 notice then the tenant can make a complaint to the local authority.
The local authority can then inspect the property and either serve a remedial notice or carry out any emergency repairs to the property. The costs of the repairs will then be charged back to the Landlord.
Any Section 21 notice served before this will no longer be valid and the no further notice can be served for another 6 months.
Please that none of the above will affect the Landlord’s right to serve a Section 8 notice if appropriate.
Any deposits that are taken from a tenant and not protected within an approved scheme within 30 days will now have to be returned to the tenant before a Section 21 notice can be served.
If the deposit has been protected but the prescribed information has not been served upon the tenant then a Section 21 notice cannot be served upon the tenants until they are provided with the prescribed information. As soon as this is provided then the Landlord can continue and serve the Section 21 notice.
The Landlord should never assume that the approved scheme will provide the prescribed information it is ultimately the Landlord’s responsibility.
However, the Landlord should be aware that failing to comply with the rules regarding the protection of the deposit will still be at risk at being liable for up to three times the amount of the deposit if the tenant brings a claim or tries to counterclaim against them.