A Section 21 notice gives a landlord the legal right to ask a tenant on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) or periodic tenancy, to leave their property. It can be served for any reason, but the tenant must be given at least 2 months’ notice to leave the property.
The forthcoming changes will bring older tenancies in line with those signed on or after 1 October 2015, when the Deregulation Act 2015 came into law.
Broker Commercial Trust outlined the key points. It noted the changes meant landlords with a tenancy agreed on or after 1 October 2015 must complete a form 6A when serving a Section 21 notice.
Under the 2015 rules, a landlord cannot serve a Section 21 notice within the first four months of the original AST, if this occurred on or after 1 October 2015.
Any tenancy agreement signed on or after that date, has to be accompanied by the latest version of the government’s ‘how to rent’ guide.
Additionally, the landlord has to provide the latest energy performance certificate (EPC) and gas safety certificate before the tenancy begins. Failure to do so will invalidate a Section 21 notice.
The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced new rules meaning a landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice within six months of the local authority serving an ‘improvement notice’ or ‘emergency remedial action notice’.
The new rule prevents a landlord from simply evicting a tenant in retaliation.
In some circumstances, if a landlord has already issued a Section 21 notice, it may be rendered invalid, if the local authority serves a relevant notice before any possession order is made.
Commercial Trust said it was not yet clear if all of the above changes would affect landlords wishing to issue a Section 21 notice, where the AST or periodic tenancy pre-dates 1 October 2015.
ARLA Propertymark advised letting agents and landlords that they will now be required to use form 6A, which combines the two previous types of notices into a single notice for both periodic and fixed-term tenancies.
Therefore, landlords and agents should stop using their existing notices next Monday.
In addition, under the Deregulation Act 2015, landlords and agents wishing to issue their tenants with a Section 21 notice should ensure they have shared the ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide with tenants.
It added that they should make sure the property has an up to date gas safety certificate, the property’s energy performance certificate has been published and that tenants have seen it, that tenants have been informed which scheme their deposit is protected in, and a copy of the licence has been provided to all of the tenants.
David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said there was a legal question over whether the additional documents need to be served on pre-October 2015 tenancies.
He added: “However, it is very unlikely that a judge would throw out a case on the basis that an agent has provided the tenant with too much information. A test case before the courts is probably required to determine exactly what needs to be served for these tenancies.”
Meanwhile, at this week’s party conference, Labour announced it would withdraw Section 21 notices for landlords altogether if it were elected.