Since the introduction of the assured shorthold tenancy (AST), most landlords have been able to use a section 21 notice to regain possession of their property where they have a legitimate reason to do so.
However, not all tenancies are assured shorthold tenancies and quite often landlords are not aware that they have something else.
This is because a tenancy may have the words assured shorthold tenancy written at the top but it doesn’t meet the conditions to be an AST.
For a tenancy to be an AST it must be let out to a person not a company, the rent must be more than £250 per year or less than £100,000, and the landlord cannot be resident in the same building.
This week’s call featured a landlord who had converted his property into a number of flats. He lived on the ground floor with a number of tenants in self-contained converted flats in the rest of the property.
Recently one of his tenants had become anti-social and started building up rent arrears. The member had tried their best to get the tenant to improve their behaviour but the tenant refused to arrange a payment plan.
Eventually once the tenant hit 2 months of rent arrears the landlord chose to serve a section 21 notice on them. The notice period was longer but the landlord had heard horror stories about how long section 8 proceedings could take so he preferred the certainty of the section 21 notice.
Unfortunately, shortly afterwards he was contacted by the tenant’s representative to tell him that the section 21 notice was invalid.
At this point the member called us. We checked all the usual reasons a section 21 was invalid but the landlord had done everything right. The notice was the correct length; he had served the EPC and gas safety certificate; protected the deposit properly and given the tenant his how to rent booklet. We even checked that no improvement notices had been served on him. The landlord had done everything right though.
We then check ed the type of tenancy he had. At this point it became clear that he was a resident landlord and so he could not have an assured shorthold tenancy.
As this was a non-assured tenancy the landlord was advised to serve a Notice to Quit instead. The notice period on this is shorter than the section 21 notice so the landlord lost no time.
John Stewart, Policy Manager, said ‘these type of tenancies are unlikely to be covered by the government’s proposed possession reforms but you will still have to be aware of them if you meet the conditions. Most of your tenancies will be affected by the removal of section 21 however, and you should make your feelings known to the government by October 12th.