Wales – No Licence? No Section 8 Notice!

Unlike England, if you are a landlord of a residential tenancy in Wales you must have an appointed licensed agent to be able to serve notice to terminate a tenancy. In this article we look at a landlord who did not obtain a licence and what happened when their tenants fell into arrears.

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Wales – No Licence! No Section 8 Notice!

By Carly Jermyn, Solicitor & Director at Woodstock Legal Services

Unlike England (at the moment), under Part 1, Housing (Wales) Act 2014 it is a requirement for a landlord of a residential tenancy for rent to be licensed, or the landlord must have appointed a licensed agent. 

The consequences of not complying means the landlord is unable to serve notice to terminate a tenancy.   

A landlord seeking possession of an assured shorthold tenancy can seek to recover possession by serving notice under section 8, Housing Act 1988 and relying on grounds for possession (for example rent arrears, grounds 8, 10 and 11). Alternatively (or sometimes in addition), a landlord can serve notice pursuant to section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to seek possession based on the tenancy ending. 

Possession may then be required through the courts and eviction through the bailiffs. 

New important case – Jarvis v Evans 

In summary, Mr Jarvis was the landlord for the tenants Mr and Mrs Evans. Mr Jarvis did not obtain a licence. The tenants did not pay the rent and consequently, Mr Jarvis served notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. Court proceedings were commenced. At the hearing, the Judge held that as result of the landlord being unlicensed possession could not be obtained under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.  

The landlord appealed to the Court of Appeal attempting to argue that a notice under section 8 of the 1988 Act was not a notice to terminate a tenancy and the legislation referred to section 21 but no reference to section 8 notice. The landlord failed and it was held that the interpretation of terminating a tenancy should be given a broad reading and applied to all notices to recover possession. 

The appeal was dismissed. Section 7 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 should be given a broad reading and applied to any notice which was served for the purpose of enabling a landlord to recover possession, even if the notice itself did not achieve that end. It therefore applied to notices under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 Act.

The express prohibition on service of a notice under section 21 was explicable as a “belt and braces” approach, rather than any indication that the Welsh Assembly had intended to treat section 8 and 21 differently. 

What does this mean in practice? 

Before serving a section 8 notice (or any other possession notice) in Wales ensure the landlord is licensed or has an appointed a licensed agent to serve the notice or a solicitor. The Judge will be asking for evidence at court so any attempt to ignore this will fail.  

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