If you are a private landlord or a tenant who has a private landlord, it is likely that your tenancy will be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). You may therefore be affected by recent and proposed changes to the law relating to this type of agreement, writes Sharron Tennant, from Spire solicitors.
S.21 Notice Procedure
The s.21 notice procedure is the legal process a landlord must follow when they want to end the tenancy and recover possession of the property. It is important that both landlords and tenants seek advice when ending the tenancy, as there are several requirements that must be met in order for this to take place. The majority of these requirements put the burden on the landlord to ensure the health and safety of the tenant has been at the forefront of their consideration during the term. If the requirements are not followed the s.21 procedure cannot be used, and effectively the landlord cannot bring the tenancy to an end.
The s.21 procedure cannot be used by the landlord if the tenant has not been provided with a copy of the gas safety certificate. In addition, the tenant must have been given the latest version of the leaflet ‘how to rent’ and a valid EPC all before the tenant moves in.
Gas Safety Certificate
A recent case confirmed that in order to satisfy this requirement, the certificate must be provided at the start of the tenancy before the tenant moves in. If the certificate is provided at any other time, this is treated as a breach of legislation by the landlord which cannot be rectified. This means that the s.21 notice procedure cannot be used by the Landlord to end the tenancy and recover possession.
To avoid this situation, landlords should be advised to ask the tenants to certify that they have received each of the required documents before they move in.
Consideration should also be given where landlords are intending to purchase a property with tenants already in situ, to ensure the appropriate documents were provided prior to occupation, otherwise it could prove difficult to bring the tenancy to an end.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
Another requirement being brought to the forefront is the obligation on landlords to provide a valid EPC. New regulations state that where the EPC rating is below Band E, Landlords cannot:
Grant a new AST or extend an existing tenancy on or after April 1, 2018 or
Continue to let a property on or after April 1, 2018