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Compliance with the Deregulation Act 2015 – A Timing Warning

Jessica Irwin

Senior associate solicitor Jessica Irwin, in our Dispute Resolution team, explains the steps that residential landlords should take to allow for a Section 21 Notice to terminate an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) to be served.

Residential Landlords will be aware that the Deregulation Act 2015 (2015 Act), which came into force on 1 October 2015, made the process of serving Section 21 Notices to terminate Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) more onerous, in terms of the various documents required to be provided to tenants before a Section 21 Notice can be served.  (For further details about the documents to be provided click here).

Until relatively recently, the general belief was that as long as the prescribed documents had been provided to the tenant prior to the service of the Section 21 notice, the notice would be valid. However, a recent High Court decision has thrown doubt on this belief. The Judge in the case of Caridon Property Ltd v Shooltz [2018] concluded that the 2015 Act requires landlords not only to provide a gas safety certificate to the tenant but to do so before the tenancy commences. Although this case only dealt with the issue of gas safety certificates, and does not set a binding legal precedent, the feeling amongst practitioners is that District Judges are likely to be very aware of this High Court decision and may be persuaded to apply the principle to the service of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and the Government’s “How to Rent” booklet, as well as gas safety certificates, in the absence of a persuasive arguments to the contrary.

The advice, in light of this decision, is that landlords should ensure that the relevant documents are provided to their tenants before the tenancy commences with evidence of receipt obtained from the tenant wherever possible. Where it is too late for this and the documents were not provided at the outset, legal advice should be sought and steps taken to rectify the position as soon as possible. While this may not resolve the problem at Court, and it may be that the Section 21 procedure cannot be used in certain circumstances, it can only assist in any arguments raised that the tenant has not suffered any prejudice, and/ or in a situation where the Caridon decision is appealed or the principle overruled in the future. 

For further information or legal advice, please contact Jessica Irwin or a member of our team.

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.