As a landlord renting out properties to tenants it is extremely important to be aware of the Deregulation Act 2015. The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced new law that significantly changed the process that must be followed to successfully evict a tenant under Section 21.
Pre-2015, it was a lot easier to evict tenants under Section 21. A landlord mainly had to ensure a Section 21 notice gave the correct notice period and that deposit protection rules were followed correctly. Now, there is a far more extensive checklist that must be ticked off prior to serving a Section 21 notice.
In brief terms, the Deregulation Act 2015 introduced requirements that Gas Safety Certificates, Energy Performance Certificates, and government How to Rent Guides must be served on tenants prior to serving a Section 21 notice. Deposit protection rules were clarified, prescribed forms for Section 21 Notices were introduced and other changes such as a 6 month shelf life for Section 2 Notices and a prohibition on landlords serving a Section 21 Notice within the first 4 months of the tenancy.
There are also provisions protecting a tenant against retaliatory eviction – if a tenant has raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of their home and the landlord looks to evict as a result, there are certain situations where the Section 21 Notice will be invalid, or a notice cannot be served for 6 months.
It is often a defence for a possession claim that documents have not been received, the main culprits are the gas safety certificates, energy performance certificate and how to rent guide. If an agent or landlord cannot convince a Judge that these documents were served, then the claim for possession could be struck out.
Gas Safety Certificates:
Firstly, if there is a gas supply in the property, landlords must ensure that annual gas safety checks are carried out and certificates of such checks are produced and served on the tenant free of charge. Landlords must also ensure that a gas safety check has been carried out prior to a tenancy commencing and the corresponding certificate is served on the tenant. Landlords must then repeat this annually and we recommend they keep of record of when and how they were served on the tenant.
Energy Performance Certificates:
In similar fashion, landlords must produce an energy performance certificate showing the tenant how energy efficient the property is. However, EPCs do not need to be produced and served annually because they are valid for 10 years. Nonetheless, a valid EPC must be served on the tenant before a Section 21 Notice.
How to Rent Guides:
Lastly, landlords must serve the most up to date How to Rent guides on the tenant at various points in the tenancy. It is very important that the relevant guide is served at the start of the tenancy, as and when a tenancy is renewed and at the point in which a tenancy turns periodic (end of the fixed term).
Failure to comply with the above rules can result in a Section 21 notice being invalid. This can cause severe delay and frustrating costs if the failure to comply is realised after the 2 months’ notice period has expired and a landlord wishes to commence court proceedings. Therefore, if you are a landlord with tenancy agreements commencing post 2015, understanding these requirements are fundamental.