Buy-to-let landlords need to prepare themselves for changes to the Section 21 Notice coming into force next week.
On 1st October 2018, all Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), regardless of their start date, will need to comply with guidelines as to when and how a landlord can serve a Section 21 Notice. A Section 21 Notice enables the landlord to terminate a tenancy agreement.
When issuing a Section 21 Notice of Possession, landlords and agents will now be required to use Form 6A. The form, prescribed by government, combines the two previous types of Notices into a single Notice for both periodic and fixed-term tenancies.
Therefore, landlords and agents should stop using any old Notices (pre Form 6A Notices) from Monday.
Deregulation Act 2015 changes
In addition, under the Deregulation Act 2015, landlords - and letting agents - wishing to issue their tenants with a Section 21 Notice should ensure they have shared the snappily titled tenants guide: ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ with all tenants. They must also make sure that the property has an up to date Gas Safety Certificate and that the tenants have seen it.
Landlords must also:
- publish the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (except when the property isn’t required to have one);
- inform tenants which scheme their deposit is protected in;
- where the property is licensed, provide a copy of the licence to all of the tenants.
Pre-October 2015 tenancies
When the changes come into effect, it’s important agents, and landlords, are executing effective Section 21 Notices when necessary.
There is a legal question over whether the additional documents need to be served on pre-October 2015 tenancies, but it’s very unlikely that a judge would throw out a case on the basis that an agent (or landlord) has provided the tenant with too much information.
Test case will show the way
Michelle Hayter, Partner of the firm and Head of Dispute Resolution and experienced in acting for both landlords and tenants, says “A test case before the courts will be required to determine exactly what needs to be served for these tenancies. The safest course of action for landlords and letting agents is to serve all the documentation when issuing a Section 21 Notice."
The Deregulation Act 2015 makes it clear what Parliament is trying to enforce: these documents should be served. Therefore, it is easier to comply with the spirit of the law rather than rely on a potential legal technicality.
Michelle concludes “The current system is messy and there are benefits to simplification. We are always happy to help landlords as they navigate the processes, as just getting the timing wrong of the correct paperwork can have disastrous consequences."
Frettens Solicitors offices in Christchurch and Ringwood are full of enthusiastic people with personality and strong experience who provide a full range of specialised legal services to private and business clients. Our teams also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest.
If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 or 01425 610100 and Michelle or the team will be happy to chat about your situation and your particular requirements.