New form and regulations on Section 21 Notices released

New form and regulations on Section 21 Notices released

The Deregulation Act 2015 gave powers to make new regulations. These regulations (The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015) have been released and come into effect from 1st October 2015.

They provide a new single prescribed form of Section 21 Notice. The regulations also set out the detail about the new restrictions on validity of Section 21 Notices, which from 1st October 2015, can’t be valid if certain requirements about gas safety certificates, EPCs, and prescribed information to tenants haven’t been met by landlords.

New Section 21 Notice

The new form of Notice is in the Schedule to the Regulations. It has to be used for all new ASTs created on or after 1st October 2015. (A new AST doesn’t include an AST that has become periodic after 1st October 2015.)

If landlords choose, they may use it from 1st October 2015 instead of the old Section 21(1)(b) and Section 21(4)(a) notices. Or they may continue to use the old notices until 2018 for tenancies that started before 1st October 2015.

For tenancies that started on or after 1st October 2015, the Section 21 Notice may not be served within the first four months of the tenancy.

The Deregulation Act 2015 provides that a landlord will only be able to rely on the new Section 21 Notice to commence court possession proceedings for six months from the date of issue of the notice if it’s served under Section 21(1) of the Housing Act 1988.

EPC and Gas Safety

The Deregulation Act 2015 placed a new restriction on Section 21 Notices from 1st October 2015. They will not be valid if certain requirements relating to health and safety are not complied with.

The new regulations now give us the detail of those requirements. Regulation 2 states that a landlord can’t serve a Section 21 Notice if they have not given the tenant:

  • An EPC free of charge (in accordance with Section 6(5) of the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012.
  • A Gas Safety Certificate in line with Regulation 36 of the Gas Safety (installation and use) Regulations 1998 (a copy of this will suffice).

The validity of the Section 21 Notice is not affected by the copy of the Gas Safety Certificate being provided outside the 28 days required by the Gas Safety regulations.

Prescribed Information for Tenants

The Deregulation Act 2015 provided that a Section 21 Notice wouldn’t be valid unless certain prescribed information had been given to the tenant. The new regulations now state what the “Prescribed Information” will be (not to be confused with the Prescribed Information to be given in relation to deposits, which still also has to be provided).

Regulation 3 sets out the Prescribed Information in the government booklet How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England.

The landlord must give the tenant the most up to date version at the start of the tenancy, but doesn’t have to provide updates after this date. The booklet can be given to the tenant electronically if the tenant agrees.

Regulations 2 and 3 will be in force from 1st October 2015.

I strongly recommend landlords to put a system in place that allows tenants to sign to confirm they’ve received the EPC, Gas Safety Certificates and the How to Rent booklet (and sign to say they have agreed to receive it electronically if that’s the case). So in the event a tenant tries to claim they have not received them, the landlord will have evidence to show compliance.

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