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A short series from landlord & tenant lawyer Tessa Shepperson on things you need to watch out for.
On 1 October 2015 new rules came in which affected landlords use of the all-important section 21 notices for properties let on assured shorthold tenancies in England (the new rules do not apply in Wales).
A section 21 notice is a notice which entitles a landlord to obtain a court order for possession against a tenant, even if the tenant has done nothing wrong, if he has failed to move out of the property after the expiry of the notice period.
However, these new rules only affected tenancies which were created or renewed, after the law came into force.
Now, on 1 October 2018, these rules will become retrospective as they will apply to ALL assured shorthold tenancies, whenever they were created.
For us advisers, it will be a lot easier after October. At the moment, we have two sets of rules to consider. It will be much more straightforward when there is just one set of rules which apply to everyone.
Landlords of older tenancies however will need to ensure that they are compliant with the new rules or section 21 will not be available for them. So, let’s take a look at this.
The existing pre-conditions of compliance with the deposit and HMO licensing rules remain. However, there are the following new rules:
There is no problem with the ‘How to Rent’ booklet. This can be downloaded from here and can be served at any time.
However, there may be a problem for landlords of properties where tenants will not let them in to do the gas safety inspection, or (if required) an EPC.
At present landlords of these properties are able to evict under section 21 but this will not be possible after 1 October.
Most decent landlords won’t have any problem with the anti-retaliatory eviction rules as these only come into effect if the Local Authority has served an improvement notice. Which they are only going to do for serious problems where landlords have refused to carry out works voluntarily.
The effect of the other two changes are that existing old style section 21 notices will become invalid after 1 October.
Check what properties you own or manage where the tenancy (or renewal) pre-dates 1 October 2015, and make a list of them.
For each of these you need to check:
As these are the two issues most likely to cause problems.
If you have a property where, for example, tenants are not letting you in to do the gas safety check, then you should consider now whether you should evict. If you are going to evict, it is best that this is started soon, so the process is complete well before the new rules come into effect.
After 1 October 2018 it will be too late to do anything about it and you will be subject to the same rules as post 1 October 2015 tenancies.
Tessa is a lawyer specialising in landlord & tenant law and runs the popular Landlord Law online service for landlords.
NB Get more help in Tessa’s January Mystery Box Giveaway
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