From this week the rules governing Section 21 Orders, written orders demanding tenants leave privately rented properties, have changed, meaning:
- A Section 21 notice is now not valid if it is served within six months of the landlord being issued with an improvement notice by the local council following complaints from tenants about repairs not being carried out.
- The Section 21 notice is not valid if a landlord has failed to provide their tenants with a copy of their home’s gas safety record, energy performance certificate and a government guide called “How to Rent”
- For most tenancies starting or renewed from October 1 2015 the landlord must use a specific form of words to give renters at least two months’ notice in writing.
- Landlords must now allow at least 4 months from the start of a tenancy before issuing Section 21 notices.
The changes come as Darlington Borough Council becomes the first in the North East to publically prosecute letting agents for failing to sign up to a mandatory redress scheme.
Research from local sales and lettings firm KIS earlier in the year revealed that zero North East letting agents had been prosecuted under the laws – introduced in October 2014 to protect tenants from excessive fees, poor quality homes and misleading adverts – despite a number of local agents apparently operating without being members of the compulsory scheme.
Ajay Jagota of North East sales and lettings firm KIS responded to the changes in eviction law.
The property firm is famous for being the first letting agents in the UK to abolish deposits, replacing them with a one-of-a-kind landlord insurance policy offering guaranteed rent, deposit replacement, legal assistance and round the clock third party emergency home repairs
He said: “These changes recognise the reality of Britain in 2015, with the number of households renting from private landlords at a 30-year high and home ownership dropping to levels not seen since 1985 – but there are a number of issues relating to them.
“Although only a tiny minority of terrible landlords would ever consider such a thing, it’s a welcome advancement for both tenants and for the reputation of the rental sector that landlords are now legally prevented from choosing to evict a tenant in response to a repair request rather than fixing the problem.
“I am concerned though that local authorities may not carry out the inspections and issue the improvement orders the law change depends upon– an issue we seem to have already seen when it comes to last year’s introduction of the letting agent redress scheme.
“There are also more regulatory hoops for landlords to jump through, which could result in homeowners being unable to regain possession of their properties for entirely justifiable reasons as a result of minor and unintentional administrative errors.
“At KIS our software makes it impossible for these details to be overlooked and our independent, insurance company-led home repair system means that if repairs need to be made, they will be made – but for DIY landlords or those who have place their trust in the wrong letting agents could be in for some unpleasant surprises.”