What should you know before issuing a section 21?
There is a lot of information that you need to know when issuing a Section 21 Notice to your tenant and it can be a very stressful time for you. To help you out we have answered some frequently asked questions that you can refer back to. If your question isn’t answered below please feel free to call the office on 01536 311690.
Q1- Which tenancies will be affected?
A1-New Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England starting from October 1st 2015 onwards will have to use the new standardised Section 21 form and abide by all the requirements for valid service. New for these purposes includes the renewal of tenancies but not statutory periodic tenancies.
For tenancies in Wales and those in England that started before October 1st 2015, the old rules for serving a notice still applies BUT ONLY UNTIL 1 OCTOBER 2018 at which point the new rules will apply to all tenancies
Q2- What notice period will I need to give?
A2-Unlike the old Section 21 notices, there is no need for landlords to end their notice at the end of a period of a tenancy. As a result, a two month notice period will be all that is needed in most circumstances. Where a contractual tenancy period runs six monthly or yearly, landlords will still need to give an appropriate matching period of notice
As always, a Section 21 notice period cannot end during a fixed term.
Q3- How long will the Section 21 notice last?
A3-Section 21s will now last 6 months from the date of service in most circumstances. For contractual periodic tenancies requiring more than two months’ notice, possession proceedings will need to be started within 4 months of expiry of the notice.
It is a case of getting legal matters underway immediately or losing your notice of possession. If this happens then you will have to re-serve the notice and wait a further two months to start legal proceedings.
Q4- On what grounds can you issue a section 21 notice?
A4- There are no specific grounds/reasons for serving notice. It may simply be because you just want the property back. Equally, you can also issue a section 21 if there are rent arrears or other breaches to the tenancy.
Q5- When can I issue a section 21 notice?
A5- Section 21 cannot be served in the first 4 months of the original tenancy but it may be served at the outset of a replacement tenancy. In practice however, the new six month lifespan means landlords should get into the habit of serving the Section 21 form as and when it is needed rather than habitually.
If, however, the tenant has actually moved out on or before the last day of the fixed term itself (as opposed to the expiry date of the Section 21 notice) then the tenancy ends automatically at the end of the fixed term so no further rent would be payable beyond this date.
Q6- What do I need to have done before serve a section 21 notice?
A6- For tenancies after October 1st 2015 a valid Section 21 can only be given when the tenant has been provided with a copy of a valid EPC, Gas Safety Certificate and the most recent version of How to rent: The checklist for renting in England. This should all be provided at the start of the tenancy. Additionally, if an updated gas safety certificate or EPC is obtained during the course of the tenancy a copy of this must have been given to the tenant. If the above information has not been provided at the outset of the tenancy then it must be as soon as possible and, in any event, before you serve the s21.
For new and old Section 21 notices the deposit must be protected correctly and the prescribed information given to all relevant parties if a deposit was taken, if the landlord fails to prove that the deposit is fully protected then they cannot issue a section 21 notice until he has done this. The landlord can also not issue a section 21 if they haven’t complied with the initial requirements of the scheme within thirty days of the deposit being received. The only times in which these rules for issuing a section 21 do not apply is if the landlord has already returned the deposit in full or with deductions that the tenant has agreed with. If the property is an HMO that requires a licence then that should also be in place before service. Likewise if the property is within a selective licensing area. If you have failed to register the deposit and you want to be able to serve s21 Notice, please contact us on 01536 311690 for further advice and assistance.
Finally, the landlord will also not be able to serve a valid Section 21 notice if they are caught by the new legislation on retaliatory eviction.
Q7- What is a retaliatory eviction?
A7- Retaliatory eviction is where a tenant informs the landlord of a repair that needs to be performed and the landlord serves an eviction notice in response.
Q7a- How does this affect my section 21 notice?
A7a -- Landlords will not be able to serve a valid Section 21 if;
- The tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord about the condition of the property prior to its being served.
- The landlord has not provided an adequate written response within 14 days (this does not mean all works are to be completed in this time frame).
- The tenant has then complained about the same matters to the relevant local authority who have decided to serve an Improvement Notice in respect of the property or have carried out emergency remedial action themselves using their powers under the HHSRS (The housing health and safety rating system).
Possession Order Specialists
My name is Carol O’ Leary. I am a lawyer who specialises in legal services for landlords. We aim to provide our clients with an outstanding legal service.
We will help and support you and most importantly we work hard for you.
Please contact us for a free, no obligation chat at either our Corby office on 01536 276300 or our Kettering office on 01536 311690 or contact us online.