The Deregulation Act 2015 was passed in March 2015 which had the effect of granting a number of changes affecting residential landlords and tenants in Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST).
The proposed changes, some of which came in effect on the 1st October 2015, have the combined effect of placing more responsibilities on landlords and offering tenants more grounds for refusal. Powers have also been given to local authorities to serve notices on landlords concerning the state and condition of properties and if such notices are not remedied any s. 21 notice would be invalid. Furthermore landlords will not be able to serve a s.21 notice within six months of an enforcement notice being served by the local authority. Although this provides a deterrent for landlords to ensure that their properties are in good condition it also provides difficulties in situations where the tenant has damaged the property themselves and as a result want to avoid eviction.
Landlord previously served s21 notices at the start of tenancies to reduce the timescales in evicting tenants should they be faced with difficult tenants however, the new changes mean that landlords will not be able to do this within the first four months of a new tenancy, although there are a few limited exceptions to this rule. Further changes have also indicated that possession claims must be taken within six months as otherwise a fresh s.21 notice must be served.
Under the new changes s21 notices will not be valid where a landlord has not complied with certain legal requirements such as providing energy performance certificates and gas safety certificates. Therefore it would be wise for landlords to provide such documents to their tenants at the start of any tenancy and many organisations have issued checklists for landlords to follow.
Although there were legal requirements before regarding deposits being protected under the tenancy deposit schemes the new changes have made clear that for notices to be valid deposits must be protected by the relevant schemes.
Practitioners involved with helping landlords in evicting tenants now need to advise their clients of the proposed changes and the effects caused. Furthermore many landlords with large property portfolios issue notices and bring possession matters themselves however the new changes may lead to more legal work for solicitors.
If you are a landlord and need any advice contact our specialist’s landlord and tenant solicitors today.