Substantial changes to regulations around landlords evicting tenants with an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) come into force on 1 October 2018. Hayley Gaffney of Coodes Solicitors’ Personal Disputes team outlines the key points.
The Deregulation Act was introduced in 2015, making significant changes to section 21 eviction rules for ASTs, but at the time of introduction was only applicable for tenancies commencing after 1 October 2015. However, from 1 October 2018, these changes will apply to all ASTs, no matter when it commenced. This will affect most tenants living in England as the majority of tenancies which commenced since 1997, where accommodation is not shared with the landlord, are ASTs.
A section 21 notice can be used by landlords to evict tenants and, according to the legislation, landlords must provide at least two months’ notice to the tenant. The expiry date of any notice will depend on whether the notice is served during the fixed term or once the tenancy has become periodic.
From 1 October this year, the main changes that will apply to all ASTs, irrespective of when they commenced, are:
Previously, landlords could give notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to their tenants in writing, in no particular style or prescribed form. However, notice must now be given using a specific form – Form 6a. In addition, landlords cannot give notice to tenants within the first four months of their tenancy.
Section 21 notices also now have an expiration date with landlords having six months to commence possession proceedings. If no action is taken in this six-month period, a new notice will have to be served with the further requisite two months’ notice provided before any possession proceedings can commence.
Landlords must provide their tenants with the relevant version of the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ Guide for any tenancies commencing after October 2015. This should be provided to the tenant free of charge prior to the tenancy start date. There is still no requirement for a How to Rent Booklet to be provided for tenancies which commenced prior to October 2015 and have continued as periodic tenancies without any renewal. However, upon renewal, this requirement will apply.
Landlords should provide a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and gas safety certificate for the property in question to the tenant, even if their tenancy was agreed before October 2015. These certificates would need to be provided to the tenants before a section 21 notice can be served. In fact, if these certificates (where relevant) have not been provided by the landlord, then a section 21 notice cannot be used at all.
These provisions mean that a landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice to a tenant within six months of an improvement notice or emergency remedial action notice being served on the property by a local authority.
From 1 October, these provisions will be enforced for all ASTs agreed before or after October 2015.
These areas of tenancy law can be complicated and confusing, so please do get in touch with us at Coodes Solicitors for any advice.