Landlords should be aware that changes have come into force which place restrictions on serving notices to end an AST under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. The changes only apply to ASTs granted on or after 1 October 2015. The changes will not apply to a fixed term AST granted prior to 1 October 2015 even if, after that date, the fixed term AST becomes a statutory periodic tenancy. The changes include:
*A landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice when a tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord about the condition of the premises or the common parts of the building and the landlord has not responded, or has given an inadequate response.
*The need for a landlord to specify last day of a period of the tenancy as the date on which the tenancy comes to an end within the notice has been removed.
* Landlords are prevented from serving a section 21 notice in the first four months of an AST.
* An order for possession must be started within six months' from the date the section 21 notice was given. A fresh section 21 notice will have to be served if possession proceedings have not been started within these time limits.
* A new prescribed form of section 21 notice has been introduced.
* A landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice unless it has provided the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate and a gas safety certificate.
* A landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice unless it has provided the tenant with prescribed information. To satisfy this requirement the landlord must give the tenant a copy of DCLG: How to rent: The checklist for renting in England.
* Tenants are granted the right to a rent apportionment of rent paid in advance, in respect of a period falling after a section 21 notice.
It is important that landlord take note of these changes as they could catch out unprepared landlords and if the procedures are not followed correctly, it could delay a landlord's ability to gain possession of their property.