Every week the RLA provides advice and support to landlords suffering with court delays.
With a 22 week average wait from applying to court to regaining possession it is no surprise that most landlords seek advice from someone before applying to court.
Unfortunately, this week the landlord did not seek any advice before applying to court.
The landlord had used a section 21 notice to regain possession of their property after the tenant fell into arrears.
The tenant had been living in the property since 2014 and no new tenancies had been given.
Once their notice expired they applied to court using the N5B form for accelerated possession which was the right form. Unfortunately however this was rejected because they had not provided all of the evidence the judge required.
In this case it was because the landlord had not provided copies of the EPC and gas safety certificate. The judge believed that after 1st October 2018 all tenancies in England must have provided these documents at the start of the tenancy. Without copies of these documents he had rejected the N5B application.
There are two issues with this; firstly the N5B form does not ask for copies of these documents; secondly, the judge was wrong and these documents were not necessary on this tenancy.
The landlord had actually served both documents and following the instructions on the form had declared he had provided them. Even if he had not served them however the documents weren’t necessary for a section 21 notice.
When the new section 21 prescribed form it only applied to tenancies beginning on or after 1st October 2015. The Deregulation Act 2015 also said that the new form, as well as the rules around retaliatory eviction would apply to all tenancies in England from October 1st 2018.
Crucially however, the rule requiring EPCs, gas safety certificates and the how to rent booklet being served were introduced in the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 instead.
In that it very clearly states that these rules only apply to tenancies that began on or after 1st October 2015 only.
As a result the landlord didn’t need to prove he had served these documents.
The judge was unaware of this however as he was not a specialist in housing law. This lack of knowledge is one of the main reasons the RLA believes a housing court must be introduced, particularly if section 21 is to be removed. Otherwise many more landlords will face unnecessary rejections and delays.
Once the landlord had joined the RLA to find out where he had gone wrong, we explained all of this to him and advised him to apply to vary the order using an N244 form citing the regulations as proof he was entitled to possession in this case.
Have your say on plans to reform the possession process
The Government is currently running a consultation on plans to abolish Section 21 and abolish Assured-Shorthold tenancies. This is a very important consultation, and we are urging landlords to respond and to also write to their MP about the proposed changes. A break down on what is in the consultation, and guidance on responding, can be read on our website here.