Landlords must comply with legislation before serving section 21 notices

Hayden Glynn, partner and property dispute specialist at Lupton Fawcett.
Hayden Glynn, partner and property dispute specialist at Lupton Fawcett.

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A landlord can give their tenant 2 months’ notice to vacate residential property let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) by way of service of a Section 21 Housing Act 1988 notice.

The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced various new provisions relating to the service of section 21 notices including:

• A prohibition on landlords serving retaliatory notices in response to disrepair claims

• The removal for the need to specify in a section 21 notice the last day of a period of the tenancy as the date on which the tenancy comes to an end

• The introduction of a prescribed form of notice

• A prohibition on landlords from serving a section 21 notice if they have not provided the tenant with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), gas safety certificate and the current version of How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England.

Until recently, the changes introduced by the Deregulation Act 2015 only applied to Assured Shorthold Tenancies entered into after October 1, 2015. However, from October 1, 2018 the changes apply to all Assured Shorthold Tenancies regardless of when they were entered into.

The Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 expressly require landlords to serve the gas safety certificate on the tenant at the start of the tenancy. This would appear to create a bar for landlords ever serving a valid section 21 notice if a gas safety certificate was served at a later date.

The point was recently considered in the county court case of Caridon Property Limited v Monty Shooltz. In this case a landlord had not served a gas safety certificate at the outset of the tenancy but had done so prior to serving their section 21 notice.

It was held that by failing to provide the gas safety certificate at the outset of the tenancy the landlord had contravened the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 and therefore the landlord could not serve a valid section 21 notice on the tenant.

Whilst this decision is not binding on other courts, it highlights how vital it is for landlords to ensure that before serving a Section 21 notice that their tenant has been provided with all required information at the outset of the tenancy.

Landlords should ensure that they take legal advice at the outset of tenancies and consider instructing solicitors to serve section 21 notices to make sure they comply with all relevant legislation.

For further help or assistance, please contact Lupton Fawcett’s Hayden Glynn, on 0113 2802032 or hayden/glynn@luptonfawcett.law