Landlords all over the UK are scrambling to get a better understanding of the changes coming to Section 21 Notices. It is a critical law which was a cornerstone behind the changes which helped deregulate the British housing marker in the 1980s.
What is a section 21 Notice?
Section 21 notice is a legal notice used in England & Wales by landlords to evict tenants and to gain possession of a property that is let under an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). It was introduced in 1988 to make it easier for landlords to get their properties back without having to establish “grounds” for possession. It can only be used with assured shorthold tenancies.
What is an assured shorthold tenancy?
In short it is when a property is let to a private individual and the rent is less than £100,000 a year. But there is more to it so read the fineprint.
So what exactly is is changing?
- Deregulation Act 2015 – To get possession of your property you will need to use a section 21 notice and it cannot be used in the first 4 months of the tenancy
- The notice becomes invalid if the tenant has not been evicted with 6 months
- If the tenant complains about the property or the common parts, landlord must respond with an adequate course of action within 14 days. The landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice as a response
- If the tenant is unsatisfied, he/she can then take the complaint to the housing authority who can inspect and serve enforcement notices on the landlord. If this happens, the landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice for 6 months as this is considered to be a retaliatory eviction
- There will be a statutory right for the tenant to claim back rent paid in advance (calculated on a daily basis) where a Section 21 notice brings the tenancy to an end before the end of a payment period
There are however some exceptions:
- If the reason is due to misuse or breach by tenant
- If at time of section 21 notice the property is genuinely for sale
- Where the landlord is a provider of social housing
- Where the property has a mortgage and its in receivership
In short, more than ever it is important to document all correspondence between the landlord & tenant throughout the tenancy as this has widespread legal implications at any stage of the tenancy.