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Crucial reminder to landlords about changes to eviction rules

Landlords and letting agents are being urged to make sure they are clear on changes to the rules for evicting a tenant which come into force this week (1 October 2018).

Section 21 eviction rules introduced under the Deregulation Act 2015 are now being extended to apply to all assured shorthold tenancies and not just those which were started or renewed after October 2015.

Getting vital paperwork right

A Section 21 Notice is one of the first steps taken by a landlord to remove a tenant from a property on an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. There does not need to be a reason for it but certain strict criteria, some new, must be met.

Crucially, there is now a different form to use when issuing a Section 21 Notice and as a smooth eviction process usually depends on getting the paperwork and documentation right, it’s vital to be aware of this.

Landlord and agents must now use Form 6A when submitting a Section 21 Notice. This form, prescribed by the government, combines the two previously used notices into one single document for both periodic and fixed-term tenancies.

What else do landlords need to remember?

The process of evicting a tenant under a Section 21 notice will be deemed invalid and fail if the landlord has not:

  • Shared the guide ‘How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England’ with tenants;
  • Made sure the property has an up to date Gas Safety Certificate and Energy Performance Certificate (except when it’s not required to have one);
  • Served both the above in a way which can be proved later, for example getting tenants to initial and date a copy of the documents and making sure this happens, and is dated accordingly, before the start of the tenancy;
  • Informed tenants which scheme their deposit is protected in;
  • Provided a copy of the licence relating to any licenced property to all the tenants.

Grey areas

There is still some confusion about how the new rules will apply to old tenancies, particularly when it comes to gas safety and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

Right to Rent update

A legal challenge to the Government’s controversial Right to Rent scheme, part of its attempt to create a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants, will take place in the High Court on December 18 and 19.

The outcome is eagerly awaited by landlords. Under the policy, they have to carry out detailed checks to ensure the immigration status of all prospective tenants before allowing them to rent a property. Failure to comply means the risk of heavy fines and a possible five year jail sentence.

For specialist legal help and advice on this area of the law, please contact Wards Solicitors’ James Murray.

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