19th August 2016

All change for s.21 notices seeking possession of residential premises


19th August 2016

All change for s.21 notices seeking possession of residential premises

Section 21 notices are often referred to as the “no fault forms” as they are relied upon when landlords are seeking possession because they want the property back at the end of a fixed/periodic term and not because of rent arrears or any other breach of the tenancy agreement (for which you would rely upon a s.8 notice).

With tenancies granted in October 2015 for 6 months now at an end, I have received numerous enquiries asking what needs to be done to recover possession of residential properties. To assist landlords and their agents I have prepared a summary of the key points to note.

The changes I have set out below relate to all tenancies granted on or after the 1st October 2015. With a sigh of relief for some landlords, the changes do not apply to fixed term ASTs granted prior to 1 October 2015, even if they become a statutory periodic tenancy after 1 October 2015.

S.21 Notices

New Prescribed Form

For all tenancy’s entered into after the 1st Oct you must use the new prescribed s.21 form, a copy of which you can find here.

Disrepair Notice from the LA.

If your tenant has made a complaint about the condition of the property and you have received from the local authority an improvement notice or notice of emergency remedial work then you cannot evict the tenant using the s.21 procedure for 6 months.

Time Limits

Landlords can no longer serve a s.21 notice at the start of the tenancy as the notice must not be given within the first four months from when the original tenancy began.

Expiry date – whilst before it was possible to issue proceedings any time after serving the notice now there is a clear time limit:

  • If you only have to give 2 months’ notice possession proceedings must be commenced within the period of six months from when the section 21 notice was given.
  • For periodic tenancies that require more than two months’ notice, proceedings must be commenced within four months from the date specified in section 2 of the notice (the date you state you require possession).

Prescribed Information

You cannot serve a s.21 notice until you have sent the following information to the tenant. I recommend that a copy of the enclosed documents are sent with the s.21 notice thus avoiding any risk of the tenant declaring that they never received them.

  1. Gas Safety Certificate;
  2. Energy Performance Certificate;
  3. A copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s publication “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”. A copy can be found here.
  4. Deposit Prescribed Information:
    1. Deposit Certificate (received from the company holding the deposit). Ensure this includes a Statement of Truth signed by both you and the Tenant.
    2. If you are using MyDeposits there will also be a leaflet (copy can be found here).

So why is this important? Failing to follow the above procedure will risk invalidating the s.21 notice and the tenant being successful in defending against your possession claim. As a result you would have to start from the beginning again, issue a fresh new notice (wait another 2 months to issue proceedings) whilst also picking up the tab for the court fee (£355) and the tenant’s legal fees in the process. To avoid this from happening our possession procedure service includes an initial check to ensure the above steps have been followed before issuing proceedings. Not only does this reduce the risk of the tenant successfully defending against the claim, but it also means that you are more likely to receive a possession order without having to attend a hearing. To find out more information about this procedure or to discuss your current requirements contact me or one of our solicitors in the property litigation team.