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Landlords beware – all change to section 21 notices

The Deregulation Act 2015 has been in force since October 2015, so why should landlords only take heed of it now?

Because the Act only applied to tenancies granted after 1st October 2015. The new Act provides that you cannot serve a s21 notice seeking possession within the first 4 months (of any tenancy commencing from 1st October 2015). This means that the first available date for service under the new Act is after 1st February 2016.

Section 21 notices under the new regime also now have a sell by date. Once a s21 notice is served, you now only have 6 months from date of service to issue possession proceedings (of 4 months from date of service if you are giving more than 2 months’ notice).

There is also a new prescribed form for s21 notices under the Act.

In addition to the requirements regarding tenancy deposit schemes (which landlords rarely got right in the first place), there are now a further array of requirements which landlords must comply with before they can even think about serving a s21 notice.

But how many tenants will know of their new found rights under the 2015 Act? The problem is that the arena is yet to be tested – as far as we know the possession claim forms have yet to be amended to compel a landlord to confirm if he has complied with all his new statutory duties.

The date when the very first notice under the new Act expires is approaching (1st April 2016), and so we will very soon see how the new rules pan out in practise.

I suspect most landlords will be unaware of the traps that await them this Spring and by the time they take stock and want to get rid of their tenants, they will realise that it’s not as easy as it once were.

A final word of warning – these new rules will apply to all tenancies after 1st October 2018 so it’s best to get to grips with them now.

The new regime is a minefield and if in doubt advice should be sought at the earliest opportunity to avoid wasted time and expense.