At present, unless a tenant is at fault their landlord has to follow a prescribed process to regain possession of their property. This process involves serving a notice pursuant to section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (s21 Notice).
In broad terms a landlord will not be able to validly serve a s21 Notice to regain possession of their property if
· their tenant has made a complaint about the
condition of their property; an
· the landlord or their agent has not provided an adequate response within 14 days; an
the local authority serves an improvement notice or an emergency remedial action notice.
First, in order to benefit from protection from retaliatory eviction a tenant must submit their complaint about the condition of their property in writing unless they do not have an effective method to communicate in writing with their landlord or their landlord’s agent.
Having a complaint in writing is of benefit to both the tenant and whoever manages their property as it provides a clear record of the exact complaint and the trigger point for providing an adequate response. This means that it is in your interest as a property manager/landlord that your tenant knows how to contact you in writing.
Secondly, a landlord (or their agent) must provide an adequate response to a complaint within 14 days.
An adequate response is one that states the remedial action that will be taken and sets out a reasonable period for that remedial action.
This means that it is crucial that the tenant's written complaint contains sufficient detail for the landlord (or their agent) to understand the issue in order be able to provide that adequate response. Without the legislation having any obligation on a tenant to provide this level of detail, it is of increased importance for landlords and professional property managers to equip their tenants with the tools they need to provide them with this information.
In order to protect landlords from vexatious complaints a tenant a s21 notice will not be invalid if:
· the tenant failed to use the property in a tenant like manner; OR
· the disrepair is due to a breach of a tenant's obligation in their tenancy agreement; OR
· a mortgagee is seeking recovery of a property under a mortgage that was in place before the tenancy commenced; OR
when the s21 notice is served the property is genuinely on the market for sale.
In addition, by using the local authority as the arbiter for the materiality of the disrepair, landlords should be protected from being unable to regain possession for minor issues of disrepair.
For more information, please contact the office on 01924 650607/800 or email us at email@example.com!