S21 Tenant Evictions:

The decision to evict a tenant is not an easy one – even for seemingly clear cut cases such as non-payment of rent or severe damage to a property will see you facing a lengthy court process. Plus, you’re going to face scrutiny yourself to ensure you’ve complied with your legal responsibilities. If you’re considering evicting your tenant and the tenancy began or was renewed after October 2015, make sure you’ve done the following before issuing proceedings.

Here, www.Upad.co.uk provide a checklist for landlords to make sure that their eviction process is successful given the new rules introduced from 1st October 2015.

Protected the deposit?

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If you take a deposit, by law you must protect it with one of three approved government schemes. But that’s not all; once it’s protected you need to ensure you’ve sent your tenant, plus any third party (such as a family member) who has contributed to the deposit, the Deposit Certificate and the Prescribed Information. Failure to do so is a breach of the regulations and you could find yourself not only paying the full deposit back to the tenant but potentially an additional 1-3 times the deposit amount. You won’t be able to serve an eviction notice until you’ve protected a deposit and if you protect it late, you’re still liable to pay out.

Provided an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate)?

This is one bureaucratic rule you’ll wish you followed if you want to gain possession of your property back. An EPC gives an indication of the energy efficiency of a property and estimated fuel costs for the year. This needs to be given to tenants before they move in, and available should they request it earlier, in order for them to make an informed decision about whether to rent the property. If you don’t provide an EPC to the tenant, you won’t be able to serve notice until you do.

Provided the ‘How to Rent’ guide?

This guide outlines what documents should be provided, what the landlord is responsible for and guidance on behaving in accordance with the tenancy agreement among other things. It’s not enough just to send the tenant a link to the gov.uk site though, you need to either print a copy or email an attachment (best to get a read receipt or reply from the tenant to confirm they’ve received it though). Also, be wary that this guide has already been updated twice, so give the most up-to-date version to your tenants to be on the safe side.

Provided a Gas Safety Certificate?

By law, you must give tenants a hard copy of the Gas Safety Certificate before they move in. A gas safety check is required every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer and the certificate needs to be given to the tenant within 28 days if they’re staying on. Otherwise, you’ll give a copy of the new certificate to your new tenants before they move in. You’ll need to keep records for 2 years. If you don’t carry out a check or fail to provide the certificate, you won’t be able to serve notice.

Taken action on a reported repair?

New rules on handling repairs were brought in to tackle retaliatory evictions: a situation where rather than dealing with a complaint about the condition of a property, the tenant is served a Section 21 notice by the landlord. Under the new rules, you must provide an ‘adequate response’ within 14 days of a tenant making a complaint otherwise the tenant can go to their local authority who in turn, can serve a formal notice under the HHSRS which will limit you serving a notice.

Not served the notice during the first 4 months of the tenancy?

Before October 2015, you could technically serve a Section 21 notice on a tenant along with the tenancy agreement, which would mean the tenancy is only for the initial fixed term and then you will get possession of your property back.

Now, you cannot serve the notice during the first 4 months of the tenancy. So if you want to end a 12 month tenancy, you must give at least 2 month’s notice starting from the 4thmonth of the tenancy. Plus, a Section 21 notice is now only valid for 6 months from the date of service and you’ll need to start court proceedings within that time.

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