One of the biggest fears for most landlords is not being able to evict a tenant if they need to get them out of the property – and that’s exactly what could happen if new rules go ahead.
Currently, a landlord can regain possession of a property by serving what is known as a section 21 notice, which states the tenant’s name and the date they are expected to leave. Landlords can download a section 21 notice from the Rentify website here.
However, new regulations – due to become law on October 1 – mean that this notice could become invalid.
The circumstances in which the notice would become invalid concern a landlord failing to carry out repairs to the property.
Section 21 notice
In particular, a landlord will not be able to serve a valid section 21 notice if:
- the tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord about the condition of the property prior to it being served, and…
- the landlord has not provided an adequate response within 14 days, and…
- the tenant has then complained to the local authority, which has decided to serve an improvement notice in respect of the property or have carried out emergency repairs themselves
This may sound unsettling to landlords, with some perhaps feeling as if they are losing some of their rights to the property.
It is important that landlords know how to respond appropriately to the new regulations. For example, the definition of an ‘adequate response’ within the 14 day deadline is one where a landlord defines what repairs will be undertaken and how long these repairs will take to be completed. Landlords need to make sure this is done in writing so that there is a record of what was – or what wasn’t – said between themselves and the tenants.
Landlords will undoubtedly be concerned that annoyed tenants may use the rules against them.
However, landlords will be relieved to hear that they at least have some protection under the new rules. These state that the section 21 notice will not be invalid if:
- the tenant failed to use the property in a tenant like manner, or…
- the disrepair is due to a breach of a tenant’s obligation in their tenancy agreement, or…
- a mortgagee is seeking recovery of a property under a mortgage that was in place before the tenancy commenced, or…
- when the section 21 notice is served the property is genuinely on the market for sale
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there have been objections from landlords to the proposed new rules. However, if they do go ahead at the beginning of next month, it important that landlords are prepared, don’t miss repairs, and keep an audit trail of any related transactions with their tenants. This will ensure that there is a record showing that you acted correctly.
Photo “Contracts” by Nobmouse