Pitfalls in possession claims

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Requirements for landlords when renting out property

Many people are unaware that requirements for landlords renting out a property have changed and changes introduced on 1st October 2018 now apply to all tenancy agreements.

As a landlord, if you want to recover possession of your property it is important that you have met the requirements set out in the Deregulation Act 2015. The Act states that if you rent your house or flat out on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement then you must provide:

1. A gas safety certificate; and

2. An energy performance certificate.

For tenancies created after 1st October 2015 you must also provide a booklet entitled “How to Rent”.

Without these documents a section 21 notice cannot be served. This notice is the first step towards regaining possession of a property.

Initially these changes only applied to tenancy agreements entered into after October 2015. However, from 1st October 2018 these changes now apply to all tenancy agreements.

If you have not already done so you should ensure that you obtain a gas safety certificate and energy performance certificate and send them to your tenants as soon as possible. You can send them by post, leave them at the property or hand them to your tenant. Whichever way you choose, you should make a note of it. This is because if you do ever need to issue a possession claim in the county court, the court will require that information.

If you do not send the documents until after you have served your notice it will be invalid and your claim at court will fail. You should also be aware that gas safety certificates must be renewed each year.

These regulations also prevent what is known as ‘retaliatory eviction’. If, as a landlord you have been served with an improvement notice by the council you cannot then serve a section 21 notice for a period of six months. Should you want to serve a notice you must ensure that you use the prescribed form.

However, there is some good news. If a tenancy passes it’s fixed term and the tenant remains in the property the tenancy becomes what is known as a periodic tenancy. This means that the tenancy will roll on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis, depending on whether the rent is paid weekly or monthly. Previously, the section 21 notice had to specify the last day of a period of the tenancy as the date after which possession is required. However, establishing the last day of a period of a tenancy is not always straightforward. Following the Deregulation Act, any date can be given for the expiry of the notice as long as it gives the tenant at least two months’ notice for possession.

If you are in any doubt about your position and require legal advice to comply with the new regulations or if you looking to serve a section 21 notice please call the litigation team at Hunt & Coombs on 01733 882800 or email [email protected].

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