Landlords allowed to remedy breach before serving section 21 Notice

Landlords are able to regain possession of properties let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy by serving a notice in accordance with section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Previously two months’ notice was adequate in most circumstances, however this has been temporarily increased by the Coronavirus Act 2020 to a minimum of three months’ notice.

Before a section 21 notice can be validly served, landlords must also have met the following statutory requirements:

  • The tenant(s) must have been given a copy of the Government’s “How to Rent” leaflet;
  • The deposit must be registered with a Government-approved protection scheme (there are three schemes to choose from);
  • The tenant(s) must be given a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property; and
  • The tenant(s) must be given a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate at the start of the tenancy and at yearly intervals.

Proof that these documents have been provided to tenants should ideally be retained or, at the very least, a record of the time, date and method of delivery should be kept. This information will be invaluable if it becomes necessary to issue court proceedings to regain possession.

When these requirements were brought into force by the Deregulation Act 2015 it took some landlords a while to adjust. This meant that when they came to serve a section 21 notice, they hadn’t complied with the requirements enabling them to do so. Landlords have therefore come under higher scrutiny from Judges and tenants have been able to make easier counterclaims against landlords for omissions such as unprotected deposits.

The Court of Appeal gave Judgment last week in the case of Trecarrell House Limited v Patricia Rouncefield. Ms Rouncefield defended a possession claim on the basis that she had not been correctly served with a Gas Safety Certificate for the flat in which she lived since February 2017 and therefore should not be ordered to vacate the property. The section 21 notice had been served in May 2018, but the Gas Safety Certificate was only provided in November 2017 (despite being dated January 2017). The Court of Appeal has ruled this is acceptable.

This is good news for landlords who would otherwise be placed in the un-remediable position of not being able to serve a section 21 notice to recover possession of their property.

If you need assistance with serving a section 21 notice or possession proceedings, please get in touch with us.

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