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Serious drafting error in rented housing regulations

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

A major drafting error in Government regulations affecting the private rented sector risks undermining confidence in new legislation being applied to the sector. The Deregulation Act, passed prior to the General Election, provides Ministers with the power to introduce a new standard form for landlords to complete and provide to a tenant when seeking to regain possession of a property on a no fault basis, known as a Section 21 notice…

A major drafting error in Government regulations affecting the private rented sector risks undermining confidence in new legislation being applied to the sector.

The Deregulation Act, passed prior to the General Election, provides Ministers with the power to introduce a new standard form for landlords to complete and provide to a tenant when seeking to regain possession of a property on a no fault basis, known as a Section 21 notice.

With the form due to become legally binding from the 1st October, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has written to the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, to seek a delay following the revelation of a serious drafting error.

The standard form, as currently drafted, notes that where a fixed term tenancy ends and then turns into a rolling or periodic tenancy the Section 21 notice would only be valid for four months from the date that it is served on the tenant*.

This contradicts the Deregulation Act, which makes clear that the required period to regain possession of a property where a tenancy is a rolling or periodic tenancy, should instead be four months from the date the Section 21 notice expires**.

Despite having engaged thoroughly with the Government on its proposals, the final version of the standard form, published last week, had not been shown to the RLA.

The RLA is warning that the drafting exposes landlords to a legal minefield, and is calling for the implementation of the plans to be delayed to give more time to get them right.

RLA policy director, David Smith, said

“The RLA continues to share the Government’s ambitions to ensure that all landlords understand and properly implement their legal responsibilities and obligations.

“In light of the major changes being introduced for the sector it is vital that all documents published by the Government are clearly understood. This drafting error will serve only to dent the confidence of landlords in the legislation.

“Whilst Ministers are understandably eager not to let these new measures drift, it would make more sense not to rush their implementation than face the potential legal difficulties that will now arise for landlords.”

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About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

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  • Simple mistakes like this are becoming more common unfortunately in the governments rush to change things.

    Their new broom sweeps clean analogy is only true if the new broom is directed by someone who is thorough and behaves professionally.

    Well done for highlighting this error, the implications are complex and will lead to confusion as well as wasting a substantial amount of court time.

    I hope they listen 🙂

  • There is also an error in the document landlords now have to give to tenants advising them how to rent. The last sentence of the booklet states that tenants can only be removed legally from a property by order of a court. This obviously makes complete nonsense of he issue of section 21 notices if the only redress for landlords to remove tenants from a property is a court order.

    They need to revise this as well.
    Jenny

    • Jenny unless you are a resident landlord it is generally a criminal offence to evict a tenant without a possession order. Only bailiffs authorised by the court can enforce that order, so you would need to get a bailiff warrant for eviction too. Your comment seems to suggest you don’t realise that? A s.21 notice allows you to apply to court for a possession order if the tenant has left by the time the notice expires. It doesn’t allow you to evict the tenant.

      • Paul,
        I think there is also an error in your advice…A s.21 notice allows you to apply to court for a possession order if the tenant has left by the time the notice expires.

        Should this read….A s.21 notice allows you to apply to court for a possession order if the tenant has NOT left by the time the notice expires.

  • Quote: This contradicts the Deregulation Act, which makes clear that the required period to regain possession of a property where a tenancy is a rolling or periodic tenancy, should instead be four months from the date the Section 21 notice expires**. Unquote.

    Assuming that the government go by the above – what does it mean in terms of the Accelerated Possession Procedure? Do the landlords have to get a court order for possession before the four months period (from the expiry of the notice) or do the landlords just have to submit a claim for possesstion before such time limit?

    • Abdur you just have to have applied for a possession order within the 6 months from service/4 months from expiry date of the s.21, you don’t have to have obtained the possession order itselft. It is essentially a time limit for the landlord to act on the notice or it falls away.

  • I would like to make a comment on the basis of why does this government feel that tenants should be allowed this level of time in a rented property if they are not paying rent to the landlord or allowing such as gas, electric and other individuals into the property including the landlord to do any work or inspections. The times that Landlords have to put up with getting no rent as the individuals know we do not have any powers and it can take months to remove these tenants and most of them leave the place in a terrible state and leave all their rubbish and the Landlord has to pay to have it removed ….. is all this fair I personally do not think so…. I feel its time for the laws to change and be fair to both sides as I see it its always complaints re the landlord and yet we put the investment in and we are the ones who are punished where is the justice gone in this country. (Written without predjudice)… M.

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