Why use Section 21?
When finding a tenant, landlords often don’t consider what action would be required if they ever wanted to ask the tenant to leave – but it is a very important factor to bear in mind.
The quickest and easiest route for a Landlord wishing to regain possession of their property is by using Section 21 notice, as there is only a 2 month notice period.
However recent changes in legislation have made the process more complex and there a number of things every Landlord must know. Not understanding the new rules could mean that a Landlord could not get the property back, even if they wanted to. This could be absolutely disastrous for example in cases where the Landlord needs to sell, or where they had a problem tenant.
Even if a landlord was aware of how to serve the Section 21 Notice, they may not be aware of the steps they would have needed to take before getting to that stage.
7 Crucial Things Every Landlord Needs To Know
The 7 steps a Landlord has to take to ensure they can regain possession legally are as follows:
- Issuing the Department for Local Communities and Local Government’s ‘How To Rent Guide’ at the start of the tenancy. Proof of issue is required also.
- Issuing the Gas certificate at the start of the tenancy. Proof of issue is required also.
- Issuing the EPC at the start of the tenancy. Proof of issue is required also.
- Issuing Prescribed Information relating to the protection of the tenant’s deposit at the start of the tenancy. Proof of issue is required also.
- Registering the deposit - this is usually with TDS, My Deposits, or DPS.
- Serving the new Section 21 notice (from 1st October 2015). The new form replaces the previous Section 21(4)a and 21(4)b forms for tenancies beginning after 1st October 2015. The new Section 21 form can be used for tenancies pre dating the 21st October, but the old Section 21(4)a and 21(4)b forms cannot be used after this date.
- Maintenance requests need to be logged and adequately responded to within 14 days. This relates to the De-Regulation Act which seeks to clamp down on so-called retaliatory evictions which is the situation whereby the tenant complains about the condition of the property, and instead of seeking to resolve the issue, the landlord instead serves notice to quit on the tenant.
Other Ways To Get Possession
Possession of the property can be gained using a number of other grounds of the Housing Act, however a possession order must be granted first by a judge and the legal process takes around 5 months on average and it’s by no means guaranteed. The grounds of the Housing Act are said to be either mandatory or discretional, and therefore only mandatory grounds can be relied upon. However mandatory grounds are only given for serious breaches of tenancy, for example the tenant being at least 2 months in arrears (on the date of the hearing. This can be pursued under Section 8).
To be able regain a property, it is vital that the Section 21 rules are understood and adhered to by the letter. If not the Landlord would simply have to wait until the tenant decides they wish to move. That could be a few months, but it could also be 10 years! Getting this wrong could be extremely problematic. To ensure you don’t fall foul of ever-changing and increasingly complex legislation, and to ensure you can re-gain your property should you ever need to, we strongly advise that the property is managed by a Letting Agent that is fully compliant and an ARLA member who will be able to take care of all this for you as part of their Management Service.
If you would like to learn more about how a managing agent can provide more peace of mind, don’t hesitate to get in touch.