Important Changes to Section 21 Notices

Residential Landlord and Tenant

The Deregulation Act 2015 (“DA”)  received its Royal Assent on 27th March and has changed the law regarding how landlords can use a section 21 notice.

The main changes come in on 1st October 2015.

One of the aims of the DA was to prevent landlords using Section 21 notices to evict tenants in retaliation for complaining about the condition of the property.

The new laws now state that from 1st October, if the landlord serves a section 21 notice on a tenant in response to complaining about the condition of the property, the tenant can report the matter to the local housing authority.

Not only that, local councils have been given the power to serve an enforcement notice on the landlord setting out a “ reasonable timescale” for improvement works to be carried out.

In such cases, the original section 21 is invalid and landlords cannot issue a second section 21 within six months of the enforcement of the notice being served.

  • Landlords will no longer be allowed to serve a section 21 notice within the first 4 months of issuing an assured shorthold tenancy.  This removes a landlord’s right to issue a section 21 at the start of the tenancy.
  • A section 21 notice must be used within six months of it being served.  Failure will result in a possession notice becoming invalid and a new one being required.
  • When a landlord has issued a periodic tenancy, they will no longer be required to serve a notice ending on its last day.
  • When a landlord has used a section 21 notice to remove a tenant, the former occupants will have a statutory right to claim back rent paid in advance.
  • Failure to provide tenants with information about their rights and responsibilities under the tenancy agreement, or to obtain an Energy Performance or Gas Safety Certificates will prevent landlords from issuing a section 21 notice.
  • Landlords will require a new prescribed form for a notice served under section 21.

The above changes will only apply to England and for the time being will not affect ASTs where the fixed term was granted before these changes came into force.

However, three years after the 1st October, the new rules will come into force and then they will apply to all ASTs in existence.

The DA also introduces a number of changes to the laws affecting the protection of tenant deposits.