Landlords Must Prepare For Changes To Section 21 Now!

From 1st October significant changes will take place to Section 21 of the Housing Act, 1988, due to The Deregulation Act which will affect all landlords. The main changes are to the rules on serving your tenants notice to quit, commonly known as a Section 21 Notice.

Are all tenancies affected?

No, only new assured shorthold tenancies commencing on or after 1st October 2015 in England.

The new rules will apply to existing tenancy agreements signed before that date from 1st October 2018.

What changes are taking place?

The key changes are as follows:-

  • Landlords must wait for a minimum of four months before serving notice on the tenant. This initiative is to prevent landlords from serving notice immediately after the tenant has taken up residence in the property.
  • The notice will be valid for a maximum of six months from the date of service. If the tenant doesn’t leave, landlords must launch possession proceedings within six months of notice served. The only exception is where the notice period is in excess of two months.
  • Landlords cannot serve notice where they have failed to comply with their existing legal obligations to their tenants. This includes the failure to ensure the safety of all fixtures and fittings, including PAT testing, provision of a valid gas certificate and a current EPC.
  • If a tenant has complained about the state of repair of the property, additional restrictions relating to Section 21 will apply. The tenant will be required to contact their local authorities if landlords fail to respond or act on their complaints. If landlords are then instructed to make improvements to the property, a Section 21 notice cannot be served. This applies for six months from a date of any notice received from local authorities unless the landlord or lettings agent responds within 14 days and all necessary repair work is completed.
  • Some exceptions apply, for instance, if the tenant is in breach of their obligations under the terms of the tenancy agreement, if the property has already been placed on the market for sale of if the owner requires possession of their property.
  • If the tenant decides to vacate the property on receipt of the Section 21 notice all rent paid in advance by the tenant must be refunded.
  • If the landlord fails to protect the tenant’s deposit, a Section 21 Notice cannot be served. This change is already in force and applies to all deposits still held by landlords. If you have failed to protect tenants’ deposits you must protect them with immediate effect and provide the tenant with copies of all relevant information.

You will find a legal viewpoint in this article here.

As landlord obligations increase, it is crucial that you understand your responsibilities and the consequences of failing to meet them.

Are you a landlord concerned about complying with the growing number of legal requirements? Put your mind at rest.  Contact Redstones to find out more about the range of comprehensive property management services we offer.

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