Being A Landlord Just Got Harder

The Deregulation Act 2015 has made being a residential landlord just that bit more arduous.

The changes brought about by the Act take effect from 1st October 2015.

Here’s what you need to know:

1.Landlords will no longer be able to serve a section 21 notice at the start of a tenancy

Landlords often did this for convenience. Serving the s21 notice at the start of the tenancy, whilst fresh in the mind of the landlord avoided the possibility of landlords forgetting to serve the s21 notice later. It also avoided having to wait for a later served s21 notice to expire, which could be after the end of the fixed tenancy term. Waiting in this way would lose valuable time before being able to issue a possession claim. The position post 1st October 2015 is that landlords can now only serve a s21 notice after 4 months from the start of the tenancy agreement. Diarising this future date will be important.

2. A section 21 notice will become invalid if not used for a possession claim within six months

Old s21 notices had an unlimited lifespan. Now, if a possession claim is not issued within 6 months of service of the s21 notice, the notice becomes invalid and a fresh section 21 notice will be required. This means then having to wait until the 2 month expiry of the new s21 notice before issuing a possession claim.

3.Prevention of so called “retaliatory evictions”

If a tenant complains to their landlord about disrepair at the property, the landlord must provide an “adequate” response within 14 days. If the landlord either 1) fails to reply or 2) fails to give an adequate reply or 3) directly responds by serving a s21 notice, the tenant can prevent an eviction by reporting the matter to the local housing authority. If the local housing authority issues an improvement notice on the landlord a s21 notice becomes invalid and the landlord will not be able to serve a new s21 notice within six months of the improvement notice being served. Under the Act an “adequate” response is defined as a response; in writing; which provides the description of the action that the landlord proposes to take to address the complaint; and which sets a timescale within which that action will be taken. It is expected that there will be a big spike in tactically made complaints before the expiry of the tenants first 4 months (i.e. before the tenant receives their s21 notice) with a subsequent spike in tactical escalations to local housing authorities. It is possible that problem tenants could also try to frustrate access for inspections and repairs, again resulting in a loss of valuable time before being able to evict them. Delays on the part of the local authorities will also likely make matters worse. They are expected to struggle to find time to carry out inspections and deal with cases. Any disputes between landlords and tenants as to who is responsible for repairing the disrepair will also result in a further loss of valuable time.

4.There is a new prescribed form of s21 notice

The Act provides for only one type of s21 notice. This can be served whether the tenancy is within the fixed term, or periodic term. Unlike its predecessors this notice doesn’t need an end date to be specified. The calculation of this date was the most common cause for failure of old s21 notices.

5.There is now no need to re-protect a deposit

When the fixed term of a tenancy expiries and the tenancy becomes periodic you now no longer need to re-protect the deposit or serve new prescribed deposit information.

6.S.21 notices will be invalid where a landlord has failed to comply with certain legal requirements

Before serving a s21 notice the below must be given to a tenant, failing which the notice will be invalid:
1.Energy performance certificate
2.Landlord gas safety certificate
3.Deposit prescribed information, if a deposit was taken
4.Department for Communities and Local Government’s booklet entitled “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”
5.Any other prescribed information as required by the Secretary of State from time to time setting out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant.

7.Tenants can claim back rent if they leave before the expiry of the rent period

There will be a statutory right for a tenant to claim back rent paid in advance where a s21 notice brings the tenancy to an end before the end of a payment period.

All of the above only apply to England and will not affect assured shorthold tenancies where the fixed term was granted before 1st October 2015, even if they became statutory periodic tenancies after the 1st October 2015. However, after the 1st October 2018, the above will apply to any assured shorthold tenancy in existence. It should be remembered that whilst the above has made the s21 possession procedure more complicated for landlords, they still have the option of following the s8 possession procedure, irrespective of whether a tenant has raised the issue of disrepair.

How we can help

Should you need expert advice regarding any of the above or require assistance in managing your property, please do not hesitate to contact in the first place either: Rachael Frankland (rfrankland@bromleys.co.uk),  or contact us on 0161 330 6821

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.