Regulations in relation to ending an Assured Shorthold Tenancy have come into force for any new tenancy starting on or after 1 October 2015.
The new regulations will affect landlords wanting to serve Section 21 notices on their tenants as follows:
- A landlord will no longer be able to serve a Section 21 notice at the start of an assured short hold tenancy. This is to ensure that the tenants are actually given 2 months’ notice prior to the tenancy coming to an end;
- Landlords will be restricted from taking retaliatory action against their tenants where a tenant has made a written complaint to their landlord regarding the condition of the premises or common parts, and the landlord has not responded or has provided an inadequate response to the complaint but instead served a Section 21 notice;
- The landlord cannot serve a Section 21 notice where they have failed to provide the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate (free of charge) and provided the tenant with a Gas Safety Certificate;
- The landlord is also unable to serve a Section 21 notice if they had failed to protect the tenant's deposit under a Tenancy Deposit Scheme and provided the appropriate prescribed information in relation to the Scheme.
- The regulations introduce an obligation on the landlord is to provide information about the respective rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant under the Assured Shorthold Tenancy. The landlord will not be able to serve a Section 21 notice if it has been in breach of this obligation.
The landlord must therefore supply the tenant with a copy of DCLG: how to rent: the checklist for renting in England .
The landlord can provide this information by email or hard copy and is not obliged to provide the tenant with an updated copy throughout the tenancy.
It is not, however, all bad news for landlords..
The new regulations will also provide a prescribed form for the Section 21 notice which removes the need for the landlord to specify the last date of a period of the tenancy and as such only 2 months’ notice is sufficient. This will make it easier for landlords who have complied with their legal obligations throughout the tenancy to serve a valid section 21 notice, as the dates for ending a tenancy has historically been the most common reason for notices to be invalid.
Overall, the new regulations will have a minimal effect on those landlords who are meeting their obligations to their tenants. For those landlords who have failed to meet their obligations however, they will need to rely on the discretionary grounds within Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 should they need to serve notice on their tenants and as such the Accelerated Procedure for Possession will not be available for them.
What impact are these changes meant impose?
The changes seek to emphasise that if you are a landlord it is important to:
- Protect the tenants deposit in a recognised Tenancy Deposit Scheme within 30 days of receiving the deposit;
- Provide the tenant with the relevant prescribed information in relation to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme;
- Provide the Tenant with a copy of DCLG: how to rent: the checklist for renting in England at the start of the tenancy;
- Provide the tenant with a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate, free of charge;
- Provide the tenant with the appropriate Gas Safety Certificates; and
- Where appropriate, check the immigration status of your tenant.