New Changes Affect Landlords and Tenants from 1 October 2018
Here is an attempt to summarise the new changes.
The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015, introduced new section 21 requirements for dwellings in England. There are “prescribed requirements” for the purpose of a new section 21A Housing Act 1988 inserted by section 38 Deregulation Act 2015.
All new tenancies created in England on or after 1st October 2015 are required to follow the new section 21 rules under the Deregulation Act 2015
The Landlords are required to provide their tenants with:
- Energy Performance Certificates and Gas Safety Certificates.
· Most recent up to date How to Rent a House Guidance (How to Rent Guide). EPC must be obtained within 7 days of marketing the property. Gas safety certificate must be provided before the tenant occupies the property. Any renewed Gas safety certificates must be given to the tenant within 28 days. Secondly,In addition to the above, there are “prescribed requirements” to watch out for the landlord will not be able to serve a section 21 Notice if the prescribed requirements are not complied with.
There are further restrictions on: When can Landlords serve a section 21 notice?
- A s.21 cannot be served in the first 4 months of a tenancy;
- After 4 months the section 21 notice can be served which in practical terms means that any Possession proceedings can be commenced after further 2 months. A section 21 notice will in most cases simply need to be a straight 2 months’ notice (plus an additional four days for service) Please note that 4 days is a recommendation;
- The landlords must make sure that the notice is valid hence they must follow and abide by the prescribed requirements;
- There is a further caution as there is an expiry date (6 months) on the Section 21 notice. If it is valid, any possession claim cannot be started on a section 21(1) or (4) notice after the end of 6 months from the date the notice was given.
After service of a valid notice if the tenant leaves, the landlord must return ‘unused’ proportion of any rent paid in advance where the s.21 expires in the course of a rent period. As far as most rental properties are concerned the rent is due on the first day of the month. If the tenant leaves on 15 of the month, the landlord must return the ‘unused’ proportion of the rent.
Last but not the least, there is a new Prescribed form (form 6a) for s.21 notice for all new tenancies these may be used for existing tenancies as well.
What is retaliatory eviction?
If a tenant complains about some disrepair. The landlord is expected to respond adequately by dealing with the problem or setting a time frame to resolve the problem. If the landlord, instead of responding by taking adequate measures decides to serve section 21 notice. This act will amount to retaliatory eviction and the section 21 notice will be invalid.
If the landlord does not respond in 14 days then the tenant can complain to the local housing authority as a result of such complain a notice can be issued against the landlord. If the landlord issues a section 21 notice without taking the remedial action suggested it will amount to retaliatory eviction.
Therefore, if tenant complains about disrepair. The landlords must in order to serve a valid Section 21 Notice make sure to respond adequately as soon as they receive a complaint. This will help them successfully argue against any claims of retaliatory eviction. “Adequate response” means to carry out the works in 14 days or set a reasonable timescale and inform the tenant in writing.
The tenants must follow the following process when reporting a complaint:
1.Always report any disrepair or poor conditions that may arise to the landlord as soon as possible. They should put their complaint in writing.
2.If, after 14 days from the tenant making a complaint, the landlord does not reply, or that reply is inadequate, or they respond by issuing a section 21 eviction notice, the tenant should approach their local authority and ask them to step in and carry out an inspection
3.The local authority will follow its procedure and may serve an Improvement Notice or Notice of Emergency Remedial Action. If this happens the landlord cannot evict the tenant for 6 months
Section 21 notice will always be valid if landlord has responded adequately and taken remedial action to deal with the complaint.
If the remedial notice served by the local authority solely contains works that have become necessary due to a breach by the tenant of the duty to use the dwelling-house in a tenant-like manner. Then the landlord can serve a valid section 21 notice.
To summarise for landlords, keep your tenant happy, read the rules, follow them and you will be able to serve a valid section 21 Notice (no fault notice) get possession after 6 months of the start of a new tenancy.
If you are a tenant and your property is in disrepair, you must not suffer in silence. You must inform your landlord and wait for adequate response. If the landlord does not respond in 14 days you can complain to the local authority. If the local authority serves an improvement notice your landlord cannot evict you for 6 months.
The regulations do not apply where an assured shorthold tenancy becomes a statutory periodic tenancy on or after 1 October 2015 where the original fixed term tenancy was granted before 1 October 2015. They do apply to the tenancies renewed on or after 1 October 2015.
This is our interpretation of the rules at the time of writing this article. However, there will be further developments and the Judges may take a different view.
By Mrs Bhavisha Patel, Solicitor.
Please Note: The above article is a general overview of the new changes. This should not be treated as conclusive advice. Nothing on this website should be read as legal advice or interpreted as creating a solicitor-client relationship. Every case must be assessed on its own merits. We recommend approaching a qualified legal professional regarding any legal issue.
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