For those that work within the Housing Sector it has become apparent that there is increasing pressure on Local Authorities and Housing Associations to provide housing for tenants that are no longer able to remain in privately rented accommodation.
There are a variety of reasons for this and one should not forget that whilst a s.21 notice (operational pursuant to s.21 the Housing Act 1988) is one mechanism to obtain possession of a privately rented property, Landlords can seek possession via the s.8 notice route where there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement (rent arrears or otherwise).
The change has been put forward by our current government with the motive of decreasing homelessness and the amount of people that are required to reside in temporary accommodation following an eviction, which it is hoped will then reduce the demand for public-sector housing. Whilst the proposals for reform are currently in their infancy, an “open-ended or indefinite” tenancy will inevitably also create more security of tenure for private tenants.
A s.21 notice often described a “no-fault eviction” is used by Landlords to regain possession of their rented property where there has not been a breach of the tenancy agreement. Since 2015, this area of law has undergone significant reform affording protection to tenants against retaliatory eviction whilst also affirming to Landlord’s the importance of complying with their regulatory obligations in relation to gas safety, energy performance and deposit protection.
In the large majority of cases in order for a s.21 notice to be valid a Landlord must show that:
- A current Gas Safety Certificate has been provided to the tenant at the outset of the tenancy and a further copy is provided on a yearly basis when the check becomes due;
- A hard copy of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate is provided to the Tenant at the outset of the tenancy;
- A hard copy of the current How to Rent Guide is provided to the Tenant at the start of the tenancy; and
- If a deposit has been taken in relation to the agreement, it must be registered with an approved deposit scheme and the Tenant must have been given the relevant prescribed information about the deposit.
As with all proposals for legal reform, significant consultation and consideration will be required before any changes in the law are enacted. The recent changes to the s.21 procedure between 2015 and 2018 took affect via transitionary provisions which may be a strategy that is adopted again. In the meantime, Landlords should take the opportunity to review their property portfolio however small or large and consider what their short and long term plans are for each property whilst continuing to ensure that they are complying with their regulatory obligations some of which are set out above.
If you would like advice on your options for obtaining possession of your property, please do not hesitate to contact me.