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Assured Shorthold Tenancies – The New Regime

The law in relation to Assured Shorthold Tenancies and Section 21 Notices served to bring them to an end changed on 1st October 2015 for tenancies commencing on or after that date.

For the time being there are two regimes in place – one for tenancies that began before 1st October 2015 and one for those that begin on or after 1st October 2015.

In summary, the differences are as follows:-

Pre-1st October 2015 Assured Shorthold Tenancies

•    Landlords can still serve a section 21 notice at any time during the tenancy
•    There is no change to the form of the section 21 notices you use
•    There is no time-limit after which a section 21 notice expires ( as long as you have not given your tenants a new fixed term tenancy or changed the terms and conditions of the tenancy)

Tenancies that began before 1st October 2015 do not come within the new regime (set out below) until October 2018.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies starting on or after 1st October 2015

For all Assured Shorthold Tenancies commencing on or after 1st October 2015, landlords must provide the tenant with the following when the tenancy is issued:

Gas appliance safety certificate
•    An energy performance certificate (EPC)
•    The government’s document called ‘How to rent: The checklist for renting in England’ – we suggest you download this at the point when you issue the tenancy.  The rules require the up to date version to be provided and the document has already been amended without notice.  Failure to serve the up to date version may invalidate a subsequent Notice.
Once the tenancy has been issued, the rules on Section 21 Notices are as follows:

  •  Landlords can only serve a Section 21 Notice after 4 months of the first tenancy
    •    The form of the Section 21 Notice has to be in the new ‘prescribed form’
    •    Section 21 Notices will now have an expiry date – this will usually be 6 months from the date of service
    •    Any health and safety improvement notice served by the local authority means no Section 21 Notice can be served for 6 months

Complaints about the property

Following the change in the rules governing Assured Shorthold Tenancies, tenants now have the ability to complain to the landlord about the condition of the property and to call in the Local Authority if they are not content with the landlord’s response.

Any complaint in writing from the tenant about the condition of a property has to be responded to within 14 days. The landlord has to set out in his reply:

  • What he intends to do
  •   The timeline for doing the repair work

If the landlord then either:

•    Fails to reply to the written complaint,
•    Gives an inadequate reply, or
•    Serves a section 21 notice

The tenant can complain to the Local Authority who must inspect the property. If the Local Authority inspects the property it can serve a remedial notice or carry out emergency remedial action, both of which stall a landlord’s right to use the Section 21 procedure as any Section 21 Notice already served with be invalid and no further Notice can be served for a period of 6 months.

The ability of a landlord to serve a Section 8 Notice remains unchanged.

Smoke alarms

From 1st October 2015, each floor of each property requires a functioning smoke alarm under The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 and some properties will require a Carbon Monoxide alarm.

If you are a landlord and you are unsure about how the changes affect your tenancies, contact our specialist team for advice about negotiating this legal minefield.

If you need any further advice contact our Specialist Team