The government’s assault on private landlords continues with the implementation of the snappily entitled Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015.
Landlords are prohibited from serving a notice to quit (Section 21 notice) under ASTs starting after 1 October 2015:
- If the tenant has complained to the landlord in writing about the condition of the dwelling;
- During the first 4 months of the AST; or
- If the landlord has failed to provide the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate, a Gas Safety certificate, and a copy of the government booklet, “How to Rent: checklist for renting in England”.
A new prescribed form of section 21 notice must be used for all ASTs beginning after 1 October 2015, and tenants must be given a minimum of 2 months’ notice. Any rent paid by the tenant for a period after the section 21 notice expires must be refunded, presumably on the assumption that the tenant actually leaves.
Claims for possession based upon the new section 21 notice must be commenced within six months of the date of the notice; given that the tenant must receive a minimum of 2 months’ notice, that leaves landlords with only four months to commence possession proceedings after a section 21 notice has expired. Landlords should carefully diarise the relevant dates.
Apart from a sudden increase in the popularity of “How to Rent: checklist for renting in England” , the new regulations are bound to make it more difficult for landlords to recover possession of private rented properties with awkward tenants, particularly those who make themselves compliant with the terms of the AST, before falling back into breach.
With these regulations, and with the recent changes to the tax treatment of income from private residential lettings, the government is clearly signalling its intention to curb the buy-to-let industry.