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There are several different types of notices to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy depending upon the reason for the termination.

However, on 1st October 2015 a number of changes will occur to the notices required under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, commonly referred to as section 21 notices to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy at the end of its term.

There are currently 2 types of section 21 notice.

One is used to terminate the tenancy whilst within the fixed contractual term and the other is when the tenancy is a periodic tenancy. In this case not less than 2 months written notice must be given but there is not prescribed form.

The issue with the later notice is that it must be served on the last day of a period of the tenancy and not less than 2 months, as well as containing some prescribed information. Always a trap for the unwary.

Changes from 1st October 2015 for all new tenancies entered on or after 1st October 2015:

1. Prevention of retaliatory evictions. This restricts a landlord’s ability to serve or possible rely upon a section 21 notice already served if and when:

a. A tenant makes a written complaint to the landlord concerning the condition of the property, and

b. The landlord, has not responded within 14 days, or the response is inadequate, or the landlord simply serves a section 21 notice,

c. The tenant can then complain to the Local Authority. If the Local Authority serves an improvement notice or carries out emergency repairs the landlord will be unable to serve a section 21 notice for a period of 6 months. It will also render any served section 21 notice ineffective. There are some exemptions – where the disrepair is caused by the tenant or the property is genuinely on the market.

2. A new prescribed notice will have to be used from 1st October 2015. This will also contain certain information that has to be given to the tenant.

3. Formalisation of the correct notice period to terminate statutory periodic tenancies. Until 2013 there was confusion as to which notice should be used to terminate a tenancy that had been a fixed term tenancy but that had expired and the tenancy had become a statutory periodic tenancy. In 2013 the Court of Appeal finally made a decision. It decided that if there had been a fixed term and the tenancy was now a statutory periodic only 2 months’ notice need be given and it did not have to expire on the last day of a period of the tenancy!

4. Landlords will no longer be allowed to serve a section 21 notices in the first 4 months of an initial tenancy.

5. In addition there is a use it or lose it element to section 21 notices. A landlord cannot rely on a section 21 notice for more than 6 months after the date they were served on the tenant.

6. Rent refund. Where a section 21 notice has been served and there is a subsequent possession order, the tenant will have a statutory right to seek a refund of rent paid in advance from the period after determination of the tenancy.

Finally, as stated these changes apply to completely new tenancies entered into on or after 1st October 2015. However, in 2018 the provisions will apply to all tenancies whenever there were entered into.

If you require any further information please contact Nick Armitage, Partner and expert in Landlord and Tenant disputes on nick.armitage@ramsdens.co.uk or call 01422 410570.