Can I get my property back?

News at Howland Jones | 17/05/2017

There are many reasons why you may want your tenants to move out and hand back the keys. Providing your tenants are under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement, or a periodic agreement, vacant possession can be gained by serving the tenants with a notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act giving them a minimum of 2 months’ notice. You don’t need to give a reason – it’s termed as a ‘no fault possession’.

Key Points:

1. The last day of the notice period can’t come before the end of a fixed term.

2. It can be served on any date as long as Point 1 is met (doesn’t have to be a rent date).

3. The maximum notice is 6 months, after that time a fresh notice is needed.

Sound simple? Not quite, there’s more. The Coalition government ushered through a piece of legislation called The Deregulation Act 2015, which changed the rules about serving notice. It was in an effort to protect tenants from ‘retaliatory eviction’ by unscrupulous landlords giving notice to tenants that raise repairs issues, to avoid having to carry out the work. A few bad apples…

Unfortunately this means the good guys have extra work to do. So, since October 2015 it is not possible to serve a Section 21 notice if any of the following apply:

4. There is an improvement notice issued by the local authority requiring the landlord to action repairs, within the last 6 months.

5. The tenant’s deposit is not protected in an approved scheme within 30 days of the initial tenancy starting.

6. The tenant has not been provided with the Prescribed Information for the relevant deposit protection scheme.

7. The tenant has not been provided with a copy of a valid EPC, valid Gas Safety Record (if the property has gas), current edition of the ‘How to Rent’ booklet produced by DCLG, and a copy of any relevant licences (e.g. HMO).

8. It is less than 4 months from the initial tenancy start date.

Howland Jones clients can rest easy - we have all this covered for you. We provide the required written respond to tenants for all reported repairs on fully managed properties. We protect tenant deposits with the Deposit Protection Service within 30 days and provide the Prescribed Information within our tenancy agreement. We issue the tenants with copies of the documents in Point 6. If you have arranged your own contractor to carry out the annual Gas Safety Record check, please ensure you send us a copy of the certificate every year because the tenant needs copies at each renewal as well as when they first move in.

Intended as a short guide, the information here deals with most standard situations. There are some less common and more complicated bits we haven’t covered here (such as tenancies where rent is not paid monthly, or seeking vacant possession before the end of a fixed term due a tenant breach of contract), so we would always recommend that you ask us for advice on a case-by-case basis as soon as you think you may want to get your property back.