“Deregulation” Regulations for Landlords

18 October, 2018

Do you have an old Assured Shorthold Tenancy (one that was granted before 1 October 2015)?  If so, are you sure that you are able to serve a section 21 notice to terminate the AST?

These questions are important following the implementation of the Deregulations Act 2015 which, despite the Act’s name, actually imposed new requirements for landlords to comply with in relation to the way in which ASTs of properties in England can be granted and terminated.

Under the Deregulations Act 2015 there was a transitional period during which ASTs granted before 1 October 2015 did not have to meet all of the requirements for the landlord to be able to serve a section 21 notice to terminate the AST.  That transitional period has now expired and so: (1) if you are a landlord; and (2) you wish to end an AST by serving a section 21 notice, you will first need to check that you can meet all of the requirements under the Deregulations Act 2015 that apply.

One of those requirements is that a landlord must provide two months’ notice when issuing a section 21 notice to any tenant on an AST.  A section 21 notice will only be valid for six months from the date the notice was given.

There are other requirements that were imposed by the Deregulations Act 2015 that affect ASTs granted on or after 2015.  Whether those requirements, following the expiry of the transitional period, will now apply to ASTs granted before 1 October 2015 is potentially open to interpretation.

Going forward, in order to review whether a section 21 notice served on any tenant on any AST will be valid, landlords should check that the tenant was provided with an energy performance certificate and a gas safety certificate at the appropriate time.  For an example of the potential consequences of a landlord getting this wrong, please see one of our previous blogs (https://www.crippspg.co.uk/real-estate/assured-shorthold-tenancies-caridon-property-ltd-v-shooltz/) concerning a landlord’s failure to issue a gas safety certificate to an assured shorthold tenant before he moved into the premises.  Tenants should also be supplied with a copy of the current version of the government guidance booklet “How to rent: The checklist for renting in England”.  As the first version of that booklet was not in circulation before 1 October 2015, it appears that this requirement will not apply to ASTs granted before 1 October 2015 but that is not to say that the issue will not be raised by tenants resisting vacating.

Landlords who grant new ASTs but fail to give their new tenant all of the required information now find themselves at risk of not being able to end the tenancy by serving a section 21 notice.  The county courts have previously interpreted the legislation very restrictively.  If that pattern continues then perhaps the Government will intervene as this may not have been what Parliament intended.  In the meantime, landlords must be careful and ensure that new assured shorthold tenants are provided with all of the relevant information required.