Landlords and agents should prepare for Section 21 changes
From October 1, all Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), regardless of their start date, will need to comply with guidelines as to when and how a landlord can serve a Section 21 Notice, which enables them to terminate a tenancy agreement.
When issuing a Section 21 Notice of Possession, landlords and agents will now be required to use Form 6A.
The form, prescribed by government, combines the two previous types of Notices into a single Notice for both periodic and fixed-term tenancies.
Landlords and agents should stop using their existing Notices from Monday.
Landlords – and letting agents – wishing to issue a Section 21 Notice should ensure they have shared the ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide with tenants, and make sure the property has an up to date Gas Safety Certificate and the tenants have seen it.
Landlords must also publish the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (except when the property isn’t required to have one); inform tenants which scheme their deposit is protected in; where the property is licensed, and provide a copy of the licence to all of the tenants.
David Cox, chief executive at ARLA Propertymark, said: “When the changes come into effect, it’s important agents and landlords are executing effective Section 21 Notices when necessary.
“There is a legal question over whether the additional documents need to be served on pre-October 2015 tenancies, but it’s very unlikely that a judge would throw out a case on the basis that an agent [or landlord] has provided the tenant with too much information.
“A test case before the courts is probably required to determine exactly what needs to be served for these tenancies.”
The safest course of action for landlords and letting agents is to serve all the documentation when issuing a Section 21 Notice, he says.
“The Deregulation Act 2015 makes the will of Parliament clear – these documents should be served – so it’s easier to comply with the spirit of the law rather than rely on a potential legal technicality,” he said.
“These changes highlight so clearly that the current system is a mess which must be simplified and improved.
“We call on the government to bring forward its promised ‘Call for Evidence’ on a new housing court and work with us to build a system fit for today’s private rented sector.”