Despite its title the Deregulation Act has introduced greater regulation into the residential letting market. Typically a landlord when granting an AST to a tenant would at the same time serve on the tenant a section 21 notice enabling the landlord to take back possession at the end of the tenancy. The law now says that a valid section 21 notice cannot be served within the first 4 months of the tenancy and, once served, the landlord must act on it within 6 months or serve a fresh section 21 notice.
Among other changes introduced by the Act, before service of a valid section 21 notice, the landlord must have supplied the tenant, free of charge, with an Energy Performance Certificate, a Gas Safety Certificate and a leaflet entitled “How to rent: The checklist for renting in England”.
In a recent court case the judge decided that a landlord who had served the tenant with a Gas Safety Certificate after the start of the AST but before serving a section 21 notice could not rely on the section 21 notice to bring the AST to an end because the obligation on the landlord was to serve the Gas Safety Certificate before the start of the AST. At the time of writing the judge’s decision is the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal and until such time as the appeal has been heard the legal position will remain unclear.
Other conditions have been introduced by the legislation and failure to comply with all the changes may result in a landlord being unable to bring an AST to an end. A landlord contemplating granting an AST or seeking to bring one to an end would be well advised to obtain legal advice first.