Many Landlords and Tenants will be familiar with a section 21 notice, a notice served by a Landlord to a Tenant to regain possession of their property. However, as a Landlord are you aware of the different legislations that outline how a section 21 notice needs to be served and when it can be served? The deregulation act of 2015 brought about a lot of changes that effected the serving of a section 21 notice it is essential that you are aware of these when serving a section 21 notice.
Prior to the deregulation act of 2015 a section 21 notice could be served on a Tenant at any time, some Landlords would even serve it on the day the tenant moved in, however now during the first 4 months of the initial tenancy a section 21 notice cannot be served. Furthermore, a section 21 notice never used to expire meaning that as a Landlord you could serve a section 21 but not enforce it for some years and it would still be valid. Now a section 21 notice is only valid for 6 months from the date it is served, the government wanted to bring in a ‘use it or loose it mentality’. This means that as a Landlord if your Tenant has not vacated when the notice expires you must have commenced with legal proceedings for possession within 6 months of the date of issue to avoid having to re-serve the notice.
Section 21 notices must be served in a prescribed format using a section 21 form 6A notice if it is not in this format then it is invalid.
As well as all this there are certain documents that need to have been issued to the Tenant before commencement of the tenancy to allow a Landlord to serve a section 21. The first document is the ‘How to rent guide’ this was introduced along with the deregulation act and legislation states that the up to date version must have been served on the Tenants prior to the commencement of any tenancy. A Tenant must also have been issued with a valid EPC and Gas Safety Certificate. Lastly, they need to have received prescribed information relating to the protection of their Deposit.
There are still a lot of Landlords that are not aware of the legislation regarding ‘retaliatory eviction’. Another major change brought about with the deregulation act of 2015. Where a Tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord or agent about the condition of their property or any common parts of the property which tenants have the right to use and the Landlord or Agent has 14 days in which to issue an adequate response. If no adequate response is sent within 14 days then a Tenant can then apply to the local authority for who can issue an improvement notice where necessary. If the local authority deem it necessary to serve an improvement notice then the Landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice for 6 months from the date the improvement notice was issued.
As you will note the legislation surrounding section 21 notices can be quite overwhelming and if not complied with you could find yourself in a situation where by you have an invalid notice and you must commence the whole process again. This is the reason so many Landlords rely on managing agents for their properties, so they know that they are compliant and when it comes to needing possession that they will be able to serve a section 21 with no issues.
Neil Newstead FARLA MNAEA MIRPM
CEO – Oakfield Estate Agents