It was already complicated enough to evict a tenant at the end of a tenancy. Legislators have now surpassed themselves and created even more obligations to be satisfied before a landlord can end a tenancy.
To navigate the dark recesses of tenant eviction law you need to know that there are a number of new laws and amendments to old laws strewn around the statute book. It is now both tedious and laborious to come to a view about how the law will apply to any situation. The many new obligations are triggered by various conditions so may be relevant in one situation but not in a slightly different situation. There are various penalties for getting it wrong, including criminal sanctions or an inability to bring possession proceedings. It really is a nasty cat’s cradle of new law.
Housing lawyers have already identified ambiguities in the law. No doubt more issues will come to light when the courts are required to try and clarify exactly what some of the new legislation actually means. We confidently anticipate a repeat of the tenant deposit fiasco and have no doubt that perfectly innocent and decent landlords will again lose large sums of money as a result of poorly drafted legislation.
We are going to set out the main new requirements. Please don’t rely on this, we may not have everything clear yet, and not every obligation applies to every situation.
For tenancies that start after 01.10.15, it is no longer possible to serve a s. 21 notice at the beginning of or in the first 4 months of a tenancy. Further, a s. 21 notice is now only valid for 6 months. If proceedings haven’t been issued within 6 months of the service of the notice, a new s. 21 notice will need to be served. If the expiry date of the notice is required to be more than two months from the date of service, then the limitation period will be 4 months from the expiry date.
Again for tenancies commencing after 01.10.15, a s. 21 notice will be invalid if the landlord has not provided the tenant with a copy of a Gas Safe Certificate, an Energy Performance Certificate and the government’s “How to Rent” leaflet. This is all in addition of course to the tenancy deposit regulations.
There is now a requirement to use a special prescribed form of s. 21 notice. Although the new law says that you can choose to use the new prescribed form for older tenancies, you shouldn’t do so. The new form refers to requirements that do not apply to older tenancies and so it would be inappropriate to serve a new notice for older tenancies.
It is now the case that where a tenancy ends during a period and the tenant has paid rent in advance, then a proportion of the rent must be re-paid to the tenant.
A complaint from the tenant about a disrepair issue can top a landlord serving a s. 21 notice. If a local authority has served an improvement notice, a s. 21 notice will not be valid for 6 months from the date of service of the notice. A notice will also be invalid where, before a s. 21 notice is served, the tenant made a complaint in writing about the condition of the property to the landlord, and the landlord did not provide an adequate response within 14 days or served a s. 21 notice in response to the complaint, and the tenant subsequently makes a complaint to the local authority who then serves a notice.
Properties must now have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. This applies to all tenancies in England. The landlord must ensure that they work properly at the beginning of the tenancy, and get them fixed of the tenant reports an issue after that.
The law surrounding assured shorthold tenancies is now so complex that this is surely the end of the road for the amateur landlord. The professional landlord will now need to rely more heavily on professional advisors. The do it yourself lawyer (with or without a DIY kit bought off the internet) is now at much greater risk of going wrong and wasting very significant amounts of time and money. We predict that even some professional advisors are not always going to get it right.
They key is to get everything right at the outset. Some breaches cannot be undone and the sanctions avoided. Get advice from a proper solicitor who specialises in housing litigation when you wish to end a tenancy agreement. A proper housing solicitor will be more likely to get it right, and will be properly insured, regulated and subject to an ombudsman if anything goes wrong.
Tenants and their advisors now have a bewildering wealth of technicalities to try and exploit in order to keep tenants in properties at the landlord’s expense.
We can help you at any stage in any part of England and Wales.
As always, this isn’t legal advice, it’s for information only. We don’t guarantee that everything above is correct. If you have an issue, you should get in touch and we can consider the actual problem in detail.
Simon J Vollans & Co., fixed fee help evicting tenants whether it’s in London, Cardiff, Newcastle, Plymouth, Birmingham, Newport, Swansea, or in fact anywhere in England or Wales.
Areas covered in England for our Ending a Tenancy in England service includes; South West England, South East England, West Midlands, East Midlands, North West England & North East England.