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News and Opinion from Edward Harte Solicitors

Legal News from Edward Harte LLP – 14th August 2015

Landlord & Property Law Update

There have been major changes in the law relating to Section 21 Notices and deposits within the last 12 months with further changes due to take affect in October of this year.  Here is a round up of the key points for Landlords, Property Owners and Agents to look out for:

  • As a result of the Court of Appeal ruling in Spencer -v- Taylor once the fixed term of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy has expired, Landlords can now serve either a Section 21 (4) (a) or a Section 21 (1) (b) Notice.
  • How does this affect you?  It is now sufficient to serve a tenant with 2 months’ notice, and the date of expiry of the notice need not be the last day of a period of the tenancy.  Whereas previously for  Periodic Tenancy you always had to serve a Section 21 (4) (a) Notice.
  • The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirments (England) Regulations 2015 mean a new Guide for Tenants must be served.
  • Provisions of the Deregulation Act, which can into force on 26 March 2015 mean:
  1. Where a tenancy became a Periodic Tenancy Agreement on or after 06 April 2007 then any deposit taken before that date now needs to be protected in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, which had to be done by 23 June 2015 failing which you could potentially face a fine.
  2. When a Tenancy Agreement became a Periodic Tenancy prior to 06 April 2007 any deposit taken in respect of that agreement does now have to be protected, which had to be done by 23 June 2015 failing which you could potentially face a fine.
  3. In the event that a Tenancy Agreement is either renewed or becomes a Periodic Tenancy then providing that the parties, property and where the deposit was protected remains the same, you do not need to re-serve the Prescribed Information on the Tenant.
  4. Any reference to “the Landlord” within the Prescribed Information also includes Agents acting on behalf of the Landlord
  • Further provisions of the Deregulation Act come into effect 01 October 2015, which means the following:
  1. You will not be able to serve a Section 21 Notice during the first 4 months of the Tenancy in relation to any tenancies which begin on or after 01 October 2015.  If a replacement Tenancy is issued then the 4 month period starts from the day on which the original tenancy began
  2. The Section 21 Notice will effectively expire 6 months from the date it was served, which means that Landlords must issue proceedings within that period.  In the case of Statutory Periodic Tenancies then proceedings must be brought within 4 months from the date of the expiry of the Notice.
  3. The Law confirms the findings in the case of Spencer -v- Taylor in that Landlords will no longer be required on the Section 21 Notice to specify the last day of a period of the tenancy as the date on which the Notice expires
  4. Landlords must have provided the Tenants with an EPC & Gas Safety Certificate before a Section 21 Notice can be served.
  5. If the Landlord is served with an Improvement Notice in respect of a Tenancy Agreement commencing on or after 01 October 2015 they will not be able to serve a Section 21 Notice for 6 months
  6. The Landlord will have 14 days to respond to a written complaint from the Tenant about the condition of the property, which must set out what he intends to do about it and the timescale for doing so.  If the Landlord fails to reply or replies by serving a Section 21 Notice or provides an inadequate response then the Tenant has the option of complaining to the Local Authority who must inspect the property.  If they then serve an Improvement Notice or carry out any emergency remedial action then the Landlord will not be allowed to rely on any previous Section 21 Notice, which has been served, and moreover no further notice can then be served for 6 months.
  • Finally, the Deregulation Act does provide that a Prescribed Form of Notice can be issued by the Government as of 01 July 2015 and therefore this is something to look out for.  In addition, further regulations may be issued requiring a Landlord to give Tenants information about their rights.  In addition, regulations may come into force regarding preventing Landlords from serving Section 21 Notices if health and safety, property condition and energy performance requirements have not been met.

For further information on the above please contact Samantha Dawkins.