Landlords urged to take care they serve the correct Section 21 notice

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According to legal firm, Kirwans, many landlords are issuing incorrect Section 21 notices to tenants, resulting in thousands of pounds being wasted on aborted possession claims and extensive delays in recovering property.

The confusion over the Section 21 notice has arisen due to legislation changes in residential AST agreements, which started on, or have been renewed since, 1st October 2015.

Old Section 21 notices, which are still issued in relation to AST’s up to 30th September 2015, require a minimum standard of proof from a landlord that a written AST is in place, a security deposit has been protected and prescribed information relating to the deposit was provided to the tenant.

However, the new Section 21 notices, for all AST’s from 1st October 2015 onwards, impose several additional obligations on landlords which must be complied with before an eviction notice can be served.

Danielle Hughes from Kirwans, fears that many landlords are serving the wrong Section 21 notice therefore putting themselves at risk of having their case thrown out of court.

She said: “Section 21 has until recent years been known as the non-fault notice, with the landlord required to provide only basic information for the older form to be valid, while tenants have limited grounds on which to dispute a possession claim.

“However, the new form sets out strict requirements with which the landlord must comply prior to serving the notice, including providing the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), a Gas Safety Certificate, and the government’s ‘How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England’ booklet.”

Hughes pointed out that the new Section 21 notice has a shorter validity period compared to the older form, which means the landlord must issue a possession claim within four months or they will have to serve a new notice.

She added: “A failure to adhere to any of these requirements renders a notice invalid, which could see the case being struck out of court, a minimum 12-week delay to the landlord, loss of the court fee of £355, and a possible order to pay the tenant’s legal costs,”.

Tenants now have grounds to defend a new Section 21 notice, if they claim the eviction only came about after they had raised concerns to the landlord about necessary property repairs.

Hughes explains: “If a tenant has reported a repair that needs undertaking to the local authority and an improvement notice has been served, the landlord may be prevented from recovering possession of the property using Section 21 for over six months under the new regulations.

“Service of the new notice where it is not needed, therefore, puts the landlord at unnecessary risk of this defence being successfully raised by the tenant in court.”

Kirwans are advising landlords and agents to take advantage of the crossover period to use the old notice where permitted before the new regulations come into force.

Full article available on LandlordTODAY: https://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/6/landlords-face-section-21-confusion-over-new-ast-agreements

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