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Warning For Residential Landlords From Yorkshire Law Firm

John Howe

Pudsey law firm John Howe & Co has raised concerns that private landlords are being caught out by the provisions of the Deregulation Act 2015 leaving them unable to serve a Section 21 eviction notice.

A Section 21 notice starts the legal process to end an assured shorthold tenancy. However, the Act states that before a Section 21 can be served the tenant must be given copies of the appropriate gas safety and energy performance certificate.

This requirement could, if the property does not meet the standards for the certification, potentially turn an assured shorthold tenancy into an assured tenancy and give the resident a security of tenure that was never intended.

An assured shorthold tenancy was designed to give limited security of tenure enabling the landlord to evict without a reason, withing agreed timescales. An assured tenancy is a lifelong tenancy that only ends if the tenant leaves or is evicted for a valid reason.

A Section 21 notice may also not be given if the landlord is in breach of any legislation which relates to:

  • The condition of the property
  • Health & safety of occupiers
  • Energy Performance
  • The tenant must put in writing complaints about disrepair with the landlord having 14 days to respond with an action plan. If repairs are not carried out the occupier can complain to the local housing authority, which can serve an enforcement notice on the owner setting out a reasonable timescale for works. A Section 21 notice cannot be issues within six months of any enforcement notice.

The provisions of the Act apply to all new assured shorthold tenancies that start on or after 1 October 2015.

John Howe, partner at John Howe & Co said: “This is a consequence of the Deregulation Act 2015 that could put some landlords in a difficult position.

“The idea of the Deregulation Act 2015 was to protect tenants against unfair eviction where they have raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of their home.

“They provide that a landlord cannot serve a Section 21 notice unless they have complied with certain legal responsibilities including providing copies of gas and energy performance certificates. While I am sure most landlords will be able to adhere to these conditions if they cannot the tenant will be in a very strong position.

“Assured shorthold tenancies were not intended to be long-term commitments by a landlord but without the correct documentation they could turn into exactly this.”