24 September 2015

New rules for Section 21 Notices

From 1 October 2015 the Deregulation Act provisions relating to retaliatory evictions will come into force.

This will change the Section 21 procedure so that tenants who complain about the condition of their premises will receive more protection.

Under the new rules a valid Section 21 Notice can’t be served if:

1. the tenant has recently made a written complaint to the landlord regarding the condition of the dwelling-house or common parts of their building; and

2. the landlord has not provided an adequate written response to the complaint within 14 days; or

3. the tenant has complained to the local authority which has served an Improvement Notice or Emergency Remedial Notice.

When responding to a tenant's complaint landlords must include a description of the action that they propose to take to address the complaint, and a timescale for the action to be carried out.

If the landlord serves a Section 21 Notice between steps 2 and 3, that Notice will be invalid if the local authority does subsequently serve an Improvement Notice. Once an Improvement Notice is served, the landlord will not be able to serve a Section 21 Notice for six months.

The above will not apply if:

•    the condition of the dwelling-house is caused by the tenant breaching their obligations;

•    the premises are genuinely on the market for sale;

•    the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing; or

•    a mortgagee wishes to exercise its power of sale and requires vacant possession.

In addition to these changes, a landlord can no longer issue a section 21 notice when granting an AST or within the first four months of the term.  Section 21 Notices currently last indefinitely, but from 1 October a Section 21 Notice will only be valid for six months. If legal proceedings haven’t started within the six months, the landlord will have to serve a new Section 21 Notice, then wait a further two months before issuing legal proceedings.

The Act will also introduce a statutory requirement for landlords to repay rent to AST tenants pro-rata, where it has been paid in advance for a rental period, and where as a result of service of a Section 21 Notice the tenancy is brought to an end before the end of a period of the tenancy.

Whilst these changes will make service of Section 21 Notices potentially more onerous, one helpful development is that landlords no longer need to specify within the Section 21 Notice the last day of a period of the tenancy as the date on which a periodic AST comes to an end.

The changes to Section 21 Notices come into force on 1st October 2015 and will apply to an AST granted on or after this date.

For more information please contact:

Natasha Rees, Partner and Head of Property Litigation
T:+44 207 863 8385
E: [email protected]

Emma Gosling, Solicitor
T: +44 207 863 8381
E: [email protected]

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