DEREGULATION ACT 2015 (preventing retaliatory evictions)
The following provision comes under s33 of the Deregulation Act 2015 (preventing retaliatory eviction) which was introduced to prevent those landlords who were failing to meet their repair obligations from serving a s21 notice when the tenant complained.
1: If a property has not been kept adequately repaired and maintained according to the requirements of s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (repairing obligations under short leases), the tenant has made a written complaint about the conditions but has not receive a written response from their landlord setting out his proposed actions and a timeline within 14 days of the complaint having been raised, in default a s21 eviction notice cannot be served.
2: If the landlord (a) fails to reply or (b) replies by serving a s21 notice or (c) gives an inadequate reply that the tenant is unhappy with, the tenant may then complain to the local authority who must inspect the property. The local authority may then in turn decide to serve an improvement notice requiring works to be undertaken under the Housing Act 2004 (specifically the Housing Health and Safety Ratings System). If such notice is served then no valid section 21 eviction notice may be served for 6 months from the date of that notice. Any s21 notice already served will be rendered ineffective and no further notice can then be served for 6 months.
3: For tenancies which first begin on or after 1st October 2015 it will not be possible to give a section 21 notice in the first 4 months of the tenancy. In the case of replacement tenancies i.e. a new tenancy with same parties and the same premises as previous tenancy, the relevant period is 4 months from the day on which the original tenancy began.
Once a s21 notice has been given, possession proceedings must be commenced (where appropriate) within 6 months of it having been served. Before this, the longest time between issuing the notice and starting possession proceedings was 8 years! So once issued, landlords must be prepared to act on it otherwise they will not be able to! For notices given under section 21(4)(a) (relating to statutory periodic tenancies), the relevant period is 4 months from the date of expiry of the notice.
4: Landlords need to prove that they have issued their tenants with a Gas Safe Certificate, an Energy Performance Certificate and a copy of the government publication ‘How To Rent: The Checklist For Renting In England’ which can be given in hard copy or the tenant can notify the landlord/agent of an email address to which it can be sent. These are prescribed legal requirements for all tenancies created from October 1st 2015 and no s21 notice can be given if the tenant has not received them.
5: : There is now a relaxation of date requirement in a s21(4) notice. What this now means is that landlords don’t need to specify the last day of a period of the tenancy as the date of the tenancy comes to an end. However, landlords and their letting agents must remain aware that the date specified in the notice must still be (a) not earlier than 2 months from the date on which the notice is given and (b) not earlier than the earliest date on which the tenancy could be brought to an end under the traditional common law rules (by means of a notice to quit).5: There is no longer a separate notice to be served when the fixed term converts to a periodic tenancy. Now there is a new formal legal notice for use with fixed term or statutory periodic tenancies, with no option for a landlord to write his own. A standard section 21 makes it less complex as it means it has to be the correct notice. All earlier notices are obsolete from 30th September 2015 and should be disposed of.
ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, CRIME & POLICING ACT 2014 (Recovery of Possession of Dwelling Houses
This part of the Act gives landlords the absolute ground for possession of secure tenancies in specific cases of anti-social behaviour. This does of course only apply as long as the landlord has also complied with its legal obligations.
The court must make an order for the recovery of possession of a dwelling-house let under a secure tenancy, when requested by the landlord if any of the following conditions is met for a) a tenant, or b) a person residing in or visiting the dwelling-house:
- Conviction for a serious offence – in the locality of the tenant’s property, or outside of the locality where the offence is against a neighbour or a person connected with a landlord’s housing management functions.
- Breach of an Injunction (in the same circumstances as the serious offence above).
- Breach of a provision of a Criminal Behaviour Order (in the same circumstances as above).
- The dwelling-house has been subject to a closure order and access has been prohibited for a continuous period of more than 48 hours.
- Breaching of a Noise Abatement notice or court order in regard to noise nuisance which emitted from the dwelling-house.
LOCALISM ACT 2011 (tenancy deposits)
Under the Localism Act 2011 all tenancies created on or after 6th April 2012 will require the landlord to return the deposit to the tenant and pay the tenant one to three times the deposit amount in compensation if the deposit has not been protected. If he does not then the tenant can sue for up to 6 years for the deposit and up to three times the deposit value.
HOUSING (TENANCY DEPOSITS) (PRESCRIBED INFORMATION) ORDER 2007
This Act requires the landlord to supply the tenant with prescribed information regarding any tenancy deposit that is required to be dealt with under either a) the custodial or b) the insurance backed tenancy deposit schemes which can be read about here.
This must also be accompanied by a copy of the Scheme’s Tenant’s Leaflet and a copy of the Deposit Protection Certificate (which must be signed by the Landlord/Agent) which gives most (but not all) of the prescribed information and which must be signed by the landlord/agent.
HOUSING ACT 2004 (HHSRS and tenancy deposit protection)
The Housing Act 2004 introduced the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (under Part 1) which is an ‘evidence-based risk assessment’ approach to housing. It is actively targeted at the PRS because of the number of rental properties that would be judged unacceptable under it’s criteria. Whilst a landlord who rents out flats is bound by the covenants contained within the lease he can also be bound by any findings under HHSRS.
The Act also gives protection for those tenant who give a tenancy deposit to the landlord under s213. Through the Act landlords must be able to provide proof that the tenancy deposit has been protected in one of the three government-approved deposit protection schemes (2 insurance-based and 1 custodial-based).
More on these schemes can be read here.
GENERAL PRODUCT SAFETY REGULATIONS 1994
The General Product Safety Regulations 1994 require landlords to ensure that products supplied in their property are not only safe but that they provide the tenant with instruction manuals and information sheets. These Regulations act as secondary legislation to Consumer Protection Act 1987 and relate to any business which supplies plugs, sockets, adapters or fuses intended for domestic use, (with a working voltage of not less than 200 volts), correctly fitted with a fused and approved UK three-pin plug (BS 1363) or approved “conversion plug”, which is a device which may be used with a conforming socket and which is designed to enable a non-UK plug to be engaged with it. All this also applies to any appliances with a plug fitted that may be supplied.
ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT (Safety) REGULATIONS 1994
Under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, any electrical equipment and products which are supplied to the tenant in a rented property have to be safe. Whilst the Regulations are not retrospective, any relevant electrical equipment included in a new tenancy after the commencement dates of these Regulations constitutes a new ‘supply’ and therefore needs to be compliant.
HOUSING ACT 1988 (assured tenancies)
The significant tenant rights granted under the Rent Act 1977 did however have some significant side effects. Freehold land costs increased as prospective landlords purchased instead of rented as they had no desire to take the risk that it was more than likely they would never see their properties returned to them in their own lifetimes!. By the late eighties, only 7% of all housing stock was privately rented. Added to all this was a major recession and it was easy to see why the private rental sector needed its fortunes reversing, not least to step into the gap left by councils who were not only selling their stock under Right to Buy but were not replacing them by building new stock.
So the Assured Tenancy was introduced under Part 1 of the Housing Act 1988 and between January 1989 and February 1997, nearly all new private lettings (whether by a private landlord or a Registered Social Landlord) were classed as such. The protections under the Rent Act 1977 were removed, controlled tenancies were converted into regulated tenancies, and rent controls were removed for property let after 1988. Unless any alternative agreement at the start of the tenancy were made then they automatically defaulted to an Assured Tenancy.
The Housing Act 1988 provides 20 grounds for landlords to evict upon where the tenant has committed a breach of the tenancy agreement, with the first 8 being mandatory (which means the judge has to award possession if proved) with grounds 9 onward being discretionary and often used to accompany mandatory grounds. The most common reason for landlords seeking possession is for rent arrears which is provided for by the following 3 grounds:
- Ground 8 (mandatory)
- Ground 10 (discretionary)
- Ground 11 (discretionary)
All 20 grounds can be read here.
COUNTY COURTS ACT 1984 (eviction transfer to the High Court)
Under s42(2) of the County Courts Act 1984 the county court is granted a general power to transfer an eviction case to the High Court and s42(5) provides that if proceedings for enforcement are transferred, the order may be enforced as a High Court Order. Permission to issue a writ of possession is required in all cases (except in mortgage cases and that of trespass). The landlord will have to provide evidence as to why the transfer is being requested. In cases where an outright possession order has been made, and whilst the landlord has to obtain permission to issue a writ, this can be done on a ‘without notice’ basis. The court may well be persuaded that the requirement for all occupiers to have received notice of the proceedings has been satisfied by the steps taken leading up to the obtaining of the possession order in the county court. Therefore the occupier may not receive notice of the application and there is no requirement to inform the occupier of the date of the intended eviction. Tenants will be expected to leave on the day the High Court Enforcement Officers arrive.
TORTS INTERFERENCE WITH GOODS ACT 1977
The Torts (Interference With Goods) Act 1977) sets out how to avoid repercussions when any goods are left behind by a tenant so that the property can be re let as soon as possible. Any such goods still belong to that tenant, whether a possession order is obtained by the landlord or the tenant surrenders the tenancy.
RENT ACT 1977
Most tenancies created before 1989 were regulated by the first of two statutory codes, the first being that set up by the Rent Act 1977. This Act consolidated all the Rent Acts that had been passed since the first (temporary) Rent Act passed in 1915. Such tenancies are known as protected tenancies they changed the underlying common law in three main ways:
- By introducing rent regulation, which meant the landlord had to not only charge a fair rent but couldn’t increase it unless it was in accordance with complex statutory legislation;
- The introduction of long-term security of tenure;
- The introduction of rules of ‘succession’ which denoted what happened to the tenancy after the death of the tenant with a husband or wife inheriting another protected tenancy or an assured tenancy which also has long term security of tenure.
Protected tenancies begin as contractual tenancies agreed between the landlord and the tenant and like common law tenancies, a Notice to Quit can be served after the fixed term has expired. At that point though, the Act takes effect and a new statutory tenancy replaces the contractual one.