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The Deregulation Act 2015 and how it will affect you

Corporate images at Fuhlam Reach-71To regain possession of a rental property, a landlord must serve a Section 21 Notice, but from October 1st there are new changes coming in which will affect the process.   The Deregulation Act 2015 will affect landlords in a number of ways so we have put together this brief guide highlighting the most important changes, outlining how they will affect landlords and describing what measures they will need to take in future.

Changes to the Section 21 Notice

In a nutshell, the Act brings in new restrictions on serving Section 21 Notices early and a new prescribed Section 21 template form. The new rules also mean that a landlord will no longer have to specify that a tenancy must end on the last day of a rental period provided that a full two months’ notice is given. The exception is a periodic tenancy with no initial fixed term. In this case the notice period does need to end on the last day of a rental period and cannot be shorter than a rental period (up to a maximum of six months).

Who will be affected?

The Act affects all Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) starting on or after October 1st 2015.   Any other ASTs will be included in the new rules from October 1st 2018.

The key points

Timing

Landlords cannot now serve a Section 21 Notice during the first four months of a tenancy.  If the tenancy has been renewed, the landlord can serve a Section 21 Notice at any time during the renewed tenancy.

Required Information

In order to serve a Section 21 Notice on or after October 1st 2015, landlords must have provided tenants with:

  • a valid Gas Safety certificate;
  • an Energy Performance certificate;
  • ‘How to rent.  The checklist for renting in England.’ – a publication from the Department for Communities and Local Government.   A link is not sufficient – the entire checklist should be given to the tenant at the start of a new tenancy;
  • Prescribed information regarding the tenant’s deposit.

To be certain, we would suggest the landlord also provides copies of this information when serving the Section 21 Notice.

Expiry

Section 21 Notices will be valid for six months from being served or four months for notices served under s21(4)(a) relating to statutory periodic tenancies.  In other words, “use it or lose it”.

An outline for landlords

Landlords cannot seek possession using Section 21:

  • during the first four months of a tenancy.
  • if the landlord is prevented from retaliatory eviction under Section 33 of the Deregulation Act 2015 (see below for details).
  • if the landlord has not complied with tenancy deposit protection legislation.
  • if the landlord has not complied with the supply of the required information (see above).
  • if a property requires a licence but does not have one.

Periodic Tenancies

These rules do not apply to Periodic Tenancies that arise on or after October 1st, 2015, if the original fixed term of the tenancy began before October 1st, 2015.  However, the rules will apply to all ASTs in place after 1st October 2018, irrespective of when the tenancy began.

Preventing retaliatory evictions

Also important for landlords are the changes to the rules which aim to prevent landlords evicting a tenant using a Section 21 Notice just because the tenant has made a complaint about the poor condition of the property – this is called a retaliatory eviction.

These new rules apply to all ASTs starting on or after October 1st 2015.  They do not apply to any tenancy already in existence before 1st October 2015 or to any renewal of that tenancy as a fixed term or periodic tenancy.   From October 2018 they will apply to all tenancies irrespective of when the tenancy began.

A landlord’s ability to serve a Section 21 Notice will be restricted if:

  • the tenant has complained in writing about the condition of their property or any common parts used by tenants such as a hallway or stairs.
  • the landlord or agent has not provided an adequate written response to this complaint within 14 days.  This will involve providing a description of the proposed course of action and timescale to carry out the work.
  • if no response is received or if no adequate written response is received or a landlord replies by serving a Section 21 Notice the tenant can complain to the Local Authority who can then issue a Relevant Notice or carry out emergency remedial action themselves.   If this happens, the landlord cannot serve a Section 21 Notice for six months from the date of the Relevant Notice.

If a Section 21 Notice has been served before a complaint is made, the Notice remains valid.

Exceptions to this are:

  • when the tenant has not used the property in a tenant-like manner, for example by damaging the property or by failing to unblock a sink if it is blocked by their waste;
  • if the poor condition of the property is because the tenant breaches their responsibilities as outlined in the tenancy agreement;
  • if the property is genuinely for sale when the Section 21 Notice is served;
  • the property is subject to a mortgage and the mortgage provider requires possession to enforce security

These are important new regulations and all landlords should make sure they know them to comply with the law. Our guide outlines the most important points but The Deregulation Act 2015 can be viewed in full here.

Don’t forget though that if you use our property management service, we will make sure you and your rental property comply with the new Act and all other relevant legislation, so that you don’t risk a fine or penalty by being unaware of changes.  For more information please contact us here.

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About the Author

A qualified lawyer (she studied Law with French Law) at UCL, Simran began her career working for a city firm specialising in commercial real estate, before joining Benham and Reeves in 2006. During this time, Simran has put systems in place to streamline administration, enabling the company to compete effectively with much larger organisations. As a result, the company’s property management department has grown substantially – in 2006 it managed 885 rental homes whereas today the department manages nearly 2000 properties for clients, including a growing number of overseas clients. Read more about Simran Prasad here - Read full profile

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