Serving notice is one of the most difficult parts of being a landlord and it is only getting more complicated by the year.
Whether it’s the new section 21 form, with all the new rules that come with it, or the new grounds for section 8, serving notice in England has got significantly more complicated over the last couple of years.
It is not surprising then that sometimes judges get confused on the new notices too. This week’s case is just one example of the confusion surrounding the issue that the RLA’s Landlord Advice Team has heard about over the last year.
The landlord in question spoke to us back in June about a notice he had served. Specifically, he wanted to make sure that the notice was the right one and that it still worked.
This notice was served in line with the old section 21 rules. Best practice at the time was to serve a section 21(1) notice at the start of the tenancy, which the landlord did in April 2014. He had protected the deposit beforehand, given the tenant the prescribed information and then served a section 21(1) notice to expire on the last day of the fixed term in April 2015.
We checked all of this and we also made sure that he had not offered any extensions of stay since the notice had been served. Satisfied with his answers, we confirmed his tenancy was under the old rules meaning the section 21 notices last forever. As a result, the section 21 notice would still be valid provided the information given was correct. Happy with this the landlord went off to make an application.
The landlord was shocked then, to have his possession order request rejected by the courts because the new rules for section 21 notices include a 6 month lifespan from the date of service.
We advised the landlord at this point to appeal the decision on the basis that the new rules on section 21 service do not apply to tenancies beginning before October 1st 2015. The only time it would apply would be if the landlord had given a new written tenancy agreement on or after October 1st 2015. This is set out in section 41 of the Deregulation Act.
We directed the landlord to complete an N161 form available from the courts and also suggested he read the guidance on it available here.
The landlord contacted us this week to inform us he had successfully gained possession as a result of this and the courts had accepted his section 21 notice was indeed valid. Now he was looking for advice on how to fill out the warrant form correctly, which we were only too happy to help with.
LAT manager Rupinder Aujla said: “This is a great example of how judges are only human and can make mistakes.
“To all our members out there, we would say pick up the phone and query any judgement and if the Landlord Advice Team can assist with any particular case law or legislation we are always happy to do so.”