Section 21 – A new “How to Rent Guide”
Section 21 – A new “How to Rent Guide”
Are you a landlord who has rented out their property under an assured shorthold tenancy (aka an “AST”)? If you answered yes, you need to read this article as it may affect your ability to later evict your tenants by serving a section 21 notice.
A new “How to Rent Guide”
On 24 March 2023, the Government released an up to date version of the ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide (“How to Rent Guide”). The How to Rent Guide is intended to help tenants and landlords in the private rented sector understand their rights and responsibilities. Landlords and/or their agents are required to provide the latest version of the How to Rent Guide to tenants at the outset of a “new tenancy”.
If you are a landlord looking to rent out your property under an AST make sure you don’t get caught out and provide the correct version of the How to Rent Guide to your tenants at the outset of the tenancy. Available here: How to rent – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
If you are a landlord who is already renting out their property under an AST, if you didn’t provide your tenant with the How to Rent Guide at the outset of the tenancy, you can ‘remedy’ this breach by providing a copy of the relevant How to Rent Guide before serving a section 21 notice. Landlords should also be careful when renewing the fixed term of a tenancy agreement with existing tenants as the same may be seen as creating a ‘new tenancy’ and thus giving rise to the requirement to provide your tenant with the up to date version of the How to Rent Guide.
In addition to the above, before being able to use the ‘no fault’ section 21 procedure to evict your tenant there are various other criterion to meet, for example:
- Has the fixed term of the tenancy expired?
- Has it been more than 4 months since the tenancy commenced?
- If the tenancy commenced after April 2007, have you put any deposit paid by the tenant in a “deposit protection scheme” and served on them a copy of the “relevant prescribed information” within the “required time limits”?
- As well as the correct How to Rent Guide, did you serve a copy of the Property’s Energy Performance Certificate (“EPC”) and Gas Safety Certificate/Record on the tenant before they moved in / rented the property?
- Has the tenant been given a gas safety certificate for every year they have been in occupation?
If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘no’, this may affect your ability to use the ‘no fault’ section 21 procedure to evict your tenant(s). It doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot serve a section 21 on your tenant or that you cannot evict them. It just means that you need to get in touch with us so that we can review your case and help you work through any complexities.
Even if you answered ‘yes’ to the above questions, you still need to consider:
- Have I charged the tenant any unlawful fees under the Tenant Fees Act 2019?
- Have there been any “council improvement notices” or “council emergency works notice” served on the property in the last 6 months?
If the answer is yes, this complicates your case and again, you need legal advice and assistance before serving any notice on your tenant.
Why do I need legal help?
The current notice period for section 21 is 2 months. If you serve the wrong notice, on the wrong form and without the correct documents, this could mean having to re-serve the notice and waiting 2 months all over again. That’s time and money wasted for you.
IBB Law’s Property Disputes Team are specialists in the section 21 procedure. We can review your case and tell you if you meet the criteria to serve a section 21 notice. If so, we can draft a valid section 21 notice for you and help arrange service on your tenant in compliance with your tenancy agreement and the relevant statutory provisions.
In the event that you do not meet the criteria, we can tell you how to become compliant (if possible) or otherwise advise what alternative options are available to you in your particular situation to recover possession of your property.
Contact our Real Estate Dispute Resolution team today
Time is money. Get in touch now to see how we can help. If you would like to discuss any issue relating to this blog, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Real Estate Dispute Resolution Team on 0330 175 7609 or contact us via the enquiry form at the top of our Property Disputes page.