The Tenant Fees Act 2019 came into force on 1 June 2019. It prohibits residential landlords and their agents from charging certain fees including tenancy set up fees, viewing fees, credit-check fees, inventory check fees, and fees for professional cleaning services.
Landlords who want to recover possession of a residential property without showing that the tenant was at fault must now serve notice in a new prescribed form (Form 6A).
Since 1997 the vast majority of residential tenancies have been assured shorthold tenancies under the Housing Act 1988. These were very easy for landlords to bring to an end. After the first four months they could give the tenant a simple two month written notice. If the tenant did not leave at the end of the notice, the landlord could bring proceedings in the local county court and obtain a possession order in a matter of weeks, without a hearing. The landlord did not need to prove any fault on the tenant’s part and the tenant had no defence provided that the formalities had been complied with. This was “no fault” eviction under section 21 of the Housing Act.
There has been growing criticism that this does not give tenants meaningful security, and leaves them at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords. Over recent years various requirements have been introduced that a landlord must comply with if they want to rely on section 21.
A valid section 21 notice cannot now be served if:
- The tenant is in the first 4 months of the tenancy (the tenant cannot be evicted in the first 6 months of a tenancy under the no fault procedure).
- The tenant has complained of disrepair; the landlord is not entitled to evict the tenant in retaliation
- The landlord has not provided an energy performance certificate and gas safety certificate
- The landlord has not complied with the tenancy deposit protection legislation
- The house is in multiple occupation and it has not been licensed
- The landlord has received any prohibited payments from the tenant under the Tenant Fees Act
The Form 6A which landlords must now use, spells this out and also advises tenants of their rights and where they can go for advice.
If a landlord has not complied with the regulations or served the correct notice they will not be able to obtain a possession order on a no fault basis.
This does not prevent a landlord form serving a 14 day section 8 notice relying on breaches by the tenant e.g. not paying rent, anti-social behaviour, damage to the property, etc. However it will be necessary to have a court hearing and prove the grounds which may not be straight forward and the tenant may be given time to put matters right.
If you are a landlord and need advice about evicting residential tenants please contact us.