From Oct 1st 2018 if you wish to repossess a property, all tenancies new and old should be treated in the same way…
The introduction of the Deregulation Act on 1st October 2015 ‘The Act’ brought with it some substantial changes that landlords and property managing agents should already be aware of in relation to the service of Section 21 Notices. So far, these changes have only applied to tenancies which commenced or renewed after 1st October 2015, known as ‘new tenancies’. Since the introduction of The Act a transition period of 3 years has been allowed in order to accommodate tenancies which began prior to 1st October 2015 known as ‘old tenancies.’
However, the transition period is due to conclude imminently, on 1st October 2018 the Act will apply to all tenancies, regardless of whether they are new or old, and there are a number of important changes that landlords and agents should be aware of when looking to serve, and indeed later rely upon Section 21 Notices. Some of the key changes are discussed below.
New Form of Notice
Going forward, all Section 21 Notices will need to be served using Form 6A; however the time limits on service will remain the same. The Act has further introduced a restriction which prevents serving tenants with a Section 21 Notice (Form 6A) during the first 4 months of the tenancy. The Form 6A also has a shelf life in that possession proceedings must be issued within 6 months from the date of issue of the Notice.
Under the Act, landlords are prevented from serving tenants with a Section 21 Notice (Form 6A) for a period of 6 months following an Improvement Notice or Emergency Remedial Action Notice served by the Local Authority. This aims to prevent landlords from serving tenants with notice in retaliation for raising concerns about disrepair in the property.
Obligation to Serve EPCs, Gas Safety
Certificates, and the How to Rent Guide
Since October 2015, landlords are required to issue the How to Rent Guide to all new tenancies and tenancies that have been renewed after this time. When the Act comes fully into effect on 1st October 218, this position will remain the same.
The Act has introduced changes requiring landlords to provide tenants with copies of the latest Gas Safety Certificate and EPC for the property. However, it currently remains unclear as to how this will apply to old tenancies, and it appears that this will not be clarified until further regulations are passed.
The issue of when the Gas Safety Certificate and EPC need to be provided to tenants also remains a grey area. A recent decision clarified that Gas Safety Certificates needs to be provided to the tenants prior to the commencement of the tenancy, i.e. during a viewing. Whilst the position remains unclear in relation to EPCs, it may be prudent to serve these alongside the Gas Safety Certificates as the issue is currently open to interpretation by individual Judges, and subject to further case law and developments.
As discussed above, the Act has significantly changed the procedure for landlords to re-gain possession of their property pursuant to the Section 21 procedure. These changes must be carefully considered before steps are taken to re-gain possession (and most importantly prior to landlords entering into a tenancy) to avoid any future delay or difficulty further down the line when possession is required.