It’s less than two weeks to section 21 changes

Andrew Turner

September 21, 2018

Andrew Turner, chief executive, Commercial Trust

Landlords with tenancies pre-dating October 2015, have been warned of changes to section 21 eviction rules, which take effect from October 1 2018. 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 (on or after the fixed term has ended).

The forthcoming changes, will bring older tenancies in line with those signed on or after October 1st, 2015, when the Deregulation Act 2015 came into law.

However, it remains unclear whether all of the rules introduced in 2015, will become applicable to older tenancies next month.

The Deregulation Act brought four changes to the Section 21 process – and any landlord wishing to evict a tenant under this rule, has to meet these requirements, if the tenancy agreement was signed on or after October 1 2015.

The changes were as follows:

1) From October 1 2015, landlords with a tenancy agreed on or after that date, must complete a Form 6A when serving a Section 21 notice.

2 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 October 1, 2015.

Additionally, the Act says that a Section 21 notice is only valid for six months from the date the notice was given. After that time has elapsed, a new notice will have to be issued by the landlord.

3) 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.

4) The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced new rules meaning a landlord cannot serve a Section 21 notice if the local authority has served an ‘Improvement Notice’ or ‘Emergency Remedial Action Notice’ within six months of this happening.

A local authority may serve an Improvement Notice or Emergency Remedial Action Notice in circumstances where a rental property is endangering a tenant.

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.

It is yet not clear if all of the above changes will affect landlords wishing to issue a Section 21 notice, where the AST or periodic tenancy pre-dates October 1 2015.

However, from October 1 2018, changes one and two will apply to landlords, regardless of when the tenancy began.

Landlords with earlier tenancy agreements, who wish to serve a Section 21 notice, should be mindful of points three and four and if in any doubt, should seek specialist legal advice to ensure that any notice is not invalidate.

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