Assured Shorthold Tenancies – Retrospective Changes from 1 October 2018

The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced new rules in relation to the way in which tenancies of properties in England can be granted and terminated.  The provisions applied initially only to tenancies created on or after 1 October 2015.  From 1 October 2018 the changes apply retrospectively to all assured shorthold tenancies, whenever they were created. Those changes in summary:

Ending an assured shorthold tenancy – Form 6A – Section 21 Notices

FORM 6A Notice seeking possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, must be used for ALL assured shorthold tenancies from 1 October 2018, irrespective of when the tenancy was created. This is a prescribed form and is available here.

Granting an assured shorthold tenancy

A landlord must ensure it has complied with its statutory obligations pursuant to section 38 of the Deregulation Act 2015, which inserted section 21A into the Housing Act 1988.

At the start of the tenancy, the landlord must have provided the tenant with:

* an energy performance certificate (EPC) free of charge.

* a gas safety certificate.

Section 39 of the Deregulation Act 2015 inserted section 21B into the Housing Act 1988.  This provided that the landlord must have provided the tenant with:

* a copy of the current version of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government information: How to rent: The checklist for renting in England. This is available here.

These documents should be supplied at the start of each new tenancy otherwise a Section 21 Notice cannot be served. There appears to be an exception for the provision of the ‘How to rent’ information for tenancies created prior to 1 October 2015.  However, to avoid tenant challenges at court that the new section 21 notice is invalid, it is recommended that landlords provide tenants with the prescribed information in any event before serving a section 21 notice.

Time for compliance                                        

Can a landlord comply with the legislation by providing the required documents after the start of the tenancy?  A strict interpretation of the legislation suggests that a landlord cannot comply late in order to serve a Form 6A section 21 notice.  There is currently no binding legal authority on the point, but it cannot have been parliament’s intention to grant an assured shorthold tenant indefinite security of tenure in these circumstances.  Best practice must be to comply as soon as possible and before serving a section 21 notice.

For further information on this or other landlord and tenant issues, please contact Richmond Duff.