Investor landlords having to “scrum” for possession

As of 1 October 2015, landlords of Assured Shorthold Tenancies will need to be mindful of the new restrictions when seeking possession of their investment properties. The Deregulation Act 2015 comes into force today and will need to be tackled carefully. The playing field has been levelled, as tenants can now speak up about disrepairs without fear of being kicked out for their homes. The Act prevents a landlord from serving a notice for possession under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 where the tenant has made a written complaint about the condition of the property or common parts and the landlord has given an inadequate or no response. Whilst a fair point for many tenants, this will inevitably create a pitfall for innocent landlords wishing to procure possession from defaulting tenants.

Additional pitfalls include:

  1. Adopting the previous form of termination notice. This can lead to delays in a landlord being able to seek possession of their property;
  2. The date that the claim for possession must be started. Possession proceedings must be commenced within 6 months of the section 21 notice (or four months from the termination date where more than 2 months’ notice of termination is given).

Although the points are in favour of tenants, a penalty kick for landlords is that the new section 21 termination notice no longer needs to specify the last day of the tenancy period. This was a previous pitfall for landlords that led to considerable litigation and confusion.

The changes only apply to assured shorthold tenancies created on or after 1 October 2015. Landlords will need to be particularly diligent when seeking possession and we recommend they take legal advice should they have any uncertainty.

Writer Miles Fish

For property law enquiries please contact Miles Fish at miles.fish@dwfmbeckman.com or Demetris Dionissiou at Demetris.Dionissiou@dwfmbeckman.com