30 October 2015 by Michelle Footer

Deregulation Act 2015: Update for residential landlords

On 1 October 2015 a number of important changes to the Housing Act 1988 came into force, which all residential landlords must be aware of, under the Deregulation Act 2015. The Act places new restrictions on how and when a landlord can serve a Section 21 notice, which is the ‘no faults’ notice that a landlord must serve to terminate an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). The changes only apply to ASTs granted on or after 1 October 2015.

The key points are as follows:

  • Introduction of a new prescribed form of Section 21 notice

From 1 October 2015, residential landlords must use the new prescribed form of Section 21 notice to terminate all tenancies which commenced on or after 1 October 2015.

  • Removal of requirement to specify last day of a period of the tenancy in Section 21 notice

For all new tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015, landlords will no longer have to specify the last day of a period of the tenancy, within the Section 21(4)(a) notice, in circumstances where the fixed term of the AST expires and becomes a statutory periodic AST.

  • Introduction of timing restrictions on the service and enforcement of a Section 21 notice

From 1 October 2015, landlords will not be permitted to serve a Section 21 notice within the first four (4) months of the term of an AST. This means those landlords or agents whose practice it is to serve a Section 21 notice at the start of the tenancy will no longer be able to do this.

Further, landlords will be required to take action to obtain possession within 6 months of the service of a Section 21 notice.

  • Obligation on landlords to provide their tenants with specific information

A Section 21 notice will not be valid unless the tenant has been provided with (a) the Energy Performance Certificate for the property (b) the current gas safety certificate and (c) the prescribed information set out in the form of the government booklet entitled “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/464910/How_to_Rent_October_2015_FINAL.pdf

This adds to the obligations already imposed on landlords which require them to have protected a tenant’s deposit within one of the three authorised schemes and to have served on the tenant the prescribed information in respect of the deposit.

  • Prohibition on retaliatory eviction

In certain circumstances, a landlord will not be able to serve a valid Section 21 notice if (a) the tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord which has not been adequately responded to or (b) the local authority has served an Improvement Notice on the landlord requiring them to carry out works to the property.

In addition to the above changes, residential landlords should also be aware that, from 1 February 2016, ‘right to rent’ immigration checks will become compulsory and landlords will be required to ensure that prospective tenants have the right to be in the UK for the duration of their tenancies.

If you require legal advice on any landlord and tenant issues, please contact Michelle Footer in our Property Litigation team on 020 7288 4782 or at michellefooter@boltburdon.co.uk.

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