As legislation changes, it is becoming increasing difficult for landlords to stay compliant and adhere to the law.
A very important part of a tenancy is being able to gain possession of your property when required, for example when you need to sell.
You may well think that you can just write a letter to your tenants giving them two months’ notice to vacate, but you might not be able to do that anymore, depending on where your property is and when the tenancy started.
The Deregulation Act, which came into force on October 1st 2015, introduced some new rules landlords must follow when they want to end a tenancy.
The changes apply to all tenancies in England, which started after 1st October, including tenancies which have been renewed since October with a new fixed term.
Note the following:
- If you want to end a tenancy you must now issue a Section 21 notice on a prescribed form. It is no longer sufficient to just write a letter.
- A section 21 notice is different to a Section 8 notice, which is the form used to evict tenants who have broken the terms of their contract.
- A Section 21 Notice is issued for what’s called a “no fault eviction” when the landlord simply wants to repossess their property once the fixed term of the contract is over. As was the case previously, you must give the tenant at least two months’ notice.
- You cannot issue a Section 21 notice during the first four months of the tenancy. Previously, some landlords would issue a Section 21 notice at the start of the tenancy so it was clear to the tenant that they must vacate the premises on the last day of the contract, but that is no longer possible.
- When you now issue a Section 21 notice it is only valid for a maximum of six months, whereas previously there was no time limit. If the tenant has not left or you have not started eviction proceedings within six months, you have to issue a new Section 21.
- You can only issue a Section 21 notice to end a tenancy if you have:
- Protected the deposit and served the tenant with the relevant prescribed information regarding the deposit protection.
- You have provided the tenant with a copy of the government’s How to Rent Guide.
- Provided the tenants with a copy of a valid Gas Safety Record for any appliances if applicable.
- Provided the tenants with a copy of a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property.
- You cannot issue a Section 21 notice if there is an unresolved formal property maintenance complaint from the tenant. This is to prevent landlords from retaliatory evictions, in other words, evicting a tenant rather than carry out any repairs that they have requested.
- If a tenant has requested repairs or reported a problem, you must respond within 14 days or you cannot issue a Section 21 notice.
- If the matter has been reported to the local authority, which has issued you with a notice requesting repairs or improvements, you cannot serve a Section 21 until six months after these have been completed.
One small change that makes things a little easier for landlords is that a Section 21 notice no longer has to expire on the last day of the rental period for any type of tenancy. Instead it can expire on any day of the month, as long as you have given a full two months’ notice.
Remember that unless you have served your tenant with a Section 21 notice, they are not obliged to leave your property even when their contract expires. If you do not issue your tenants with an eviction notice or a new contract, their original contract will automatically turn into a periodic tenancy. The contract will continue rolling on month by month with the same terms and conditions.
As you can see, with these new rules landlords are further burdened with the need to keep up to date with the current legislation. Landlords will greatly benefit from having their tenancies professionally set up and managed by an ARLA licenced agent.
These changes will not apply to tenancies that existed prior to 1st October 2015…for now, however will apply to ALL tenancies, regardless of when they started, from October 2018.
Please feel free to contact me, if you have any concerns or you just want some general advice about lettings and property management.
Chamak Digwa, ARLA Licensed Agent
Green City Lettings