McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

Section 21 Notices – The Changes

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 was brought into effect during Mrs Thatcher’s government.  It’s effect was to give power to landlords in giving them a mandatory ground for possession, by just giving two months notice.

The main pitfalls with the old notice which, by the way, still applies to all tenancies which commenced pre 1 October 2015, are ensuring that the “date of expiry” is “the last day of a period of the tenancy”.  This means that if the tenancy began on 14 February, and a notice was served on 8 October 2015, it would need to expire on 13 December 2015.

However, apart from the above and the tenant possibly disputing whether or not they received the notice, it was pretty much a slam-dunk scenario for obtaining an Order for Possession.

However, the all-new section 21, which applies to all tenancies post 1 October 2015, has shifted the balance back towards tenants.  It is therefore extremely important that landlords and estate agents are aware of them and take them into account when serving notices. 

The main change which benefits landlords is the removal for the need for the expiry of the notice to be the last day of a period of tenancy.  Now, it can end on any day, so long as at least 2 months notice is given.

However, it cannot be validly served within the first 4 months of the commencement of the tenancy.  As 2 month’s notice, this means that, for fixed tenancies of 6 months, it will be difficult for landlords to effectively serve the notice, so the tenancy is limited to 6 months.

In addition, for a section 21 notice to be relied upon to obtain an Order for Possession, Court proceedings must be issued within 6 months of the notice being served.  This means that landlords must “put up or shut up” in respect of the notice.

It remains the case that the deposit has to be held with a registered scheme for a section 21 notice to be valid.  In addition, if the prescribed information which must be given in respect of the scheme is not given, this can render a notice invalid.

Perhaps the most significant change are the provisions to prevent so called “revenge evictions”.  In essence, if the tenant has made a legitimate complaint about a property, a section 21 notice cannot be validly served, unless it is dealt with.  This provision is brand new and therefore, no doubt, will be subject to interpretation from the Courts in order to clarify the precise meaning.

However, in addition, if the Council gives a notice as to the condition of the property, it will mean that a section 21 notice cannot be served for another 6 months!  The numbers of complaints to the Council by tenants may therefore increase.

If a tenant has complained about the condition of the property, the landlord should now respond within 14 days and indicate how they are going to deal with the issues raised.  If the issues are well-founded and reasonable and the landlord does not deal with them, a section 21 notice cannot be validly served, until they are dealt with.

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