Section 21 Retaliatory Eviction (England Only)

22 07 2015

Section 21 is one of the most important and significant sections in the Housing Act 1988. As you will know, after service of a properly drafted section 21 notice, a landlord can evict his tenant as of right, without having to give a reason. Arguably it was the cause of the ‘buy to let industry’ – as under the previous Rent Act 1977, landlords found it almost impossible to recover their property from tenants.

Retaliatory eviction: Deregulation Act 2015

When these regulations come into force in October 2015, section 21 notices will be invalid in the following circumstances:

  • if it is served after a tenant complains about the condition of their rented property and the landlord fails to provide an adequate response, and
  • the tenant then goes to the Local Authority and complains and they serve a ‘relevant notice’ on the landlord

An adequate response, is one which:

  • gives a description of the work the landlord intends to do to deal with the complaint and
  • sets out a timetable for doing it.

The landlord can’t serve a notice within 6 months of a Local Authority serving a relevant notice to them. A relevant notice is basically an improvement notice or a notice regarding remedial action being taken by the Local Authority.

There are exceptions if:

  • it was the tenant who caused the damage to the property being complained about, and/or
  • the property is genuinely on the market for sale (but this must be the open market and there must not be any intention to sell to a connected party).

The same rules will also apply to the common parts of a building (for example stairs and hallways outside rented flats) if the landlord had a ‘controlling interest’ and the condition of the common parts affected the tenants use of his rented property.

There is a commencement order which brings some of these changes into force on 1 July 2015. However, the requirement for the new section 21 notice cannot come into force until the statutory instrument has been published. We will of course update you as soon as we know.

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