The Deregulation Act 2015 and The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 brought big changes to section 21 Housing Act 1988 for tenancies in England.
Extra requirements were introduced whereby a section 21 notice could not be served unless EPC, gas safety certificate and How to Rent Guide have been given amongst other things like retaliatory evictions.
The Deregulation Act changes were only to apply to tenancies in England granted on or after 1 October 2015 (including renewals). Then the rules were to apply to all tenancies from 1 October 2018. This includes tenancies granted before October 2015. But there is confusion about the application of some of the rules from 1 October 2018 because of the wording of the regulations.
In summary, from 1 October 2018, the rules are as follows:
New prescribed section 21 form
- It will be mandatory to use the prescribed s21 Notice (Form 6A) from 1 October 2018, for all ASTs granted on or after 1 October 2015.
Time limits when section 21 can be served
- A Landlord/or Agent cannot serve a s21 notice within the first 4 months of the original AST
Time limit by when section 21 must be used
- From 1 October 2018 Landlord or Agent must commence proceedings within 6 months from the date the s21 notice was given (the period is slightly longer if more than two months’ notice is required) in relation to any AST.
Retaliatory eviction provisions
- From 1 October 2018 the retaliatory eviction provisions will apply to all ASTs. A Landlord or agent cannot serve a section 21 notice for 6 months if the local authority has served an Improvement Notice or Emergency Remedial Action Notice (a “relevant notice”).
How to Rent Guide
- How to Rent guide: the obligation to serve the How to Rent guide only applies to tenancies that started after October 2015. The obligation is for the latest version to be provided to the tenant by the landlord (not just a link) for all new assured shorthold tenancies and replacement ASTs (including statutory periodic tenancies). The current version was updated 6 July 2018
Gas Safety Certificate & EPC
- A Landlord or agent cannot rely on a s21 Notice if they have failed to serve Gas safety certificate and an EPC on the tenant of an AST granted on or after 1 October 2015. Insofar as EPC is concerned, this obligation is excepted where a property is not required to have an EPC – such as where the landlord is letting a room on a single AST in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
In the recent county court appeal, Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz, HHJ Luba stated that the landlord is required to give the tenant a copy of the most recent gas safety record before the tenant occupies the property. This means if the gas safety certificate has not been given to the tenant at the outset of the tenancy the landlord has lost for all time the ability to end the tenancy through the Section 21 route. This would mean the landlord would need to rely on the grounds in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, many of which are discretionary and give the landlord no guarantee of recovering possession.
It remains the case (under section 215 of the Housing Act 2004) that a section 21 notice cannot be given unless any tenancy deposit paid is being held in accordance with an authorised tenancy deposit scheme and prescribed information about the tenancy deposit scheme has been given to the tenant.