Section 21: Changes in England from October
The Deregulation Act 2015 made changes to prevent ‘retaliatory evictions’ and all new tenancies starting on or after 1 October 2015 had to adhere to new guidelines as to when and how a landlord can serve a Section 21 notice.
From October 2018 all remaining Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) will be subject to these rules, regardless of their start date.
With the new rules, landlords and agents that wish to serve their tenants with a Section 21, or ‘no-fault’ eviction must:
- Ensure that they have issued a ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide either digitally or as a hard copy;
- Provide tenants with an up to date Gas Safety Certificate;
- Issue the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (except where the property isn’t required to have one such as letting a room on a single Assured Shorthold Tenancy in an House of Multiple Occupation [HMO]);
- Give tenants the Prescribed Information relating to the protection of their deposit (which must be protected);
- Where the property is licensed, provide a copy of the licence to all of the property’s tenants.
All of these documents need to be the most up-to-date versions for the eviction notice to stand.
When issuing a Section 21, landlords will be required to use Form 6a. The new form has combined the two previous types of notices (s.21 (1)(b) and s.21 (4)(a)) into a single notice for both periodic and fixed-term tenancies. The two old forms cannot be used from 1 October 2018.
Often landlords use this form of eviction notice to regain their property if they want to sell, extend or refurbish the house, or move back into the home themselves. It can be served at the end of a tenancy, but no sooner than the first four months of the original tenancy.
Tenants must be given at least two months’ notice by their landlord or someone acting on behalf of them, before they are expected to vacate the property. The amount of notice required to give to the tenants differs where a tenancy is periodic. For those who pay their rent quarterly, at least three months’ notice will be required, or where the periodic tenancy is half yearly or annual, at least six months’ notice has to be given (which is the upper limit of notice that can be provided). The notice remains valid for six months where two months’ notice is required, and valid for four months where more than two months’ notice is required. Where validity of the notice ends, a new one will need to be served providing that court action was not started.