The Deregulation Act 2015 which was passed by Parliament in March 2015 brings many new regulations for landlords, section 33 of the said Act particularly brings many changes to the way in which the section 21 notice (under the Housing Act 1988 (as amended)) is used by landlords and their agents.
Section 33 of the Act relates to preventing retaliatory eviction by way of restricting when a landlord can actually serve a valid notice under Section 21.
Changes made by Section 33
Where the relevant notice is served by the local housing authority a section 21 notice cannot be served within 6 months beginning on the date of which the relevant notice is served or; where the relevant notice has been suspended, within 6 months from which the suspension ends.
The relevant notice mentioned above means a notice under section 11, 12 or 40(7) of the Housing Act 2004 which are improvement and remedial action notices the local authority can serve upon a landlord. It is worth noting if the local authority wholly revoke such a notice the section 21 notice would not be affected from thereon.
A section 21 notice served in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy is deemed invalid if before the notice was given the tenant made a written complaint regarding the condition of the property at the time the complaint was made and:
- The landlord did not provide a response to the complaint within 14 days of the complaint being received
- The landlord provided a response to the complaint which was not adequate
An adequate response is defined as:
- A written response providing a description of how the landlord intends to deal with the complaint and,
- sets out reasonable time scale in which action will taken
It is, as it always has been, important landlords provide an address for service to their tenant as required by section 48 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987, the above mentioned consequences still apply where the tenant does not know the landlord’s address for service and has made reasonable efforts to contact the landlord.
A court will strike out a possession claim under section 21 where the section 21 notice relied upon is deemed invalid due to any of the above.
Exemptions to Section 33
If the condition of the property arose due to the tenant damaging the property, any written complaint regarding the condition of the property which is as a result of the tenant will not invalidate a section 21 notice. A landlord who is a private registered provider of social housing will be exempt from section 33 of the Deregulation Act 2015.
Further, exemption from Section 33 applies where the let property is genuinely on the market for sale at the date the section 21 notice is served. However, the let property is not genuinely on the market for sale where the landlord intends to sell the let property to:
- a person associated with the landlord,
- a business partner of the landlord,
- a person associated with a business partner of the landlord, or
- a business partner of a person associated with the landlord