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28 October 2015

Residential Landlords take note: important changes to Section 21 notices from 1 October 2015

A number of significant changes to the s.21 Housing Act 1988 regime for ending an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) will be coming into effect from the beginning of October.

These have been brought in by sections 33 to 41 of the Deregulation Act 2014 (DA 2015) and the snappily-titled Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 (SI/2015/1646) (“the 2015 Regulations”).

Which ASTs are affected by the new rules?

  • The new rules will only apply to ASTs granted on or after 1 October 2015.
  • They will not apply to a fixed term AST granted prior to that date, even if after 1 October 2015 the fixed term AST becomes a statutory periodic tenancy.
  • However, all but one of the new rules will apply to all ASTs after 1 October 2018.

What are the new rules?

  • The 2015 Regulations set out a new prescribed form of section 21 notice (Form No. 6A). This must be used for all ASTs created on or after 1 October 2015 (except for periodic tenancies which have arisen after that date but were fixed term ASTs created before 1 October 2015), and may also be used for all ASTs.
  • It will no longer be necessary for any s.21 notice to expire on the last date of a period of a tenancy (in England). The requirement is solely that two months’ notice is given.
  • Landlords cannot serve a s.21 notice during the first 4 months of an AST, thereby ensuring that tenants are actually given a separate two months’ notice before the AST will come to an end.
  • Landlords cannot serve a s.21 notice unless it has already provided the tenant with:
    (i) an energy performance certificate (EPC) free of charge;
    (ii) a copy of a gas safety certificate; and
    (iii) a copy of a booklet issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) called ‘How to rent: the  checklist for renting England’, which explains the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant under an AST.
  • Landlords will be prevented from carrying out ‘retaliation evictions’ if a tenant has complained of disrepair to the property.
  • Tenants will also have a statutory right to claim back rent paid in advance if that rent relates to a period falling after a s.21 notice has ended the tenancy.

If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this article please contact us.