Section 21 Housing Act 1988 will be amended substantially and will drastically affect when landlords can serve a section 21 notice and begin court proceedings. There is to be a ‘use it or loose it’ rule introduced. Further, the giving of a section 21 notice early into the tenancy (including the day of signing a tenancy) will be outlawed in England.
When can a section 21 be served?
In relation to a tenancy granted on or after 1 October 2015 (see below), no section 21 notice in relation to a dwelling-house in England will be able to be served within the first four months of the tenancy. If the tenancy is a replacement tenancy (a renewal between the same landlord and tenant for substantially the same premises), the section 21 notice will not be able to be served within the first four months of the original tenancy.
This does not apply where a statutory periodic tenancy has arisen at the end of the fixed term. This has the effect that it is possible to reduce the four month limit by giving a shorter fixed term. For example, you could give a one month fixed term (on or after 1 October 2015) and then once the tenancy has gone ‘statutory periodic’, you could then serve a section 21 notice. However the rule that a court cannot order possession until at least six months has elapsed since the original tenancy remains, so it’s unclear what major gain there would be. Members should have in mind that the Guild tenancies do not go statutory periodic at the end of the term so couldn’t be used for this purpose without alteration.
When must a section 21 be enforced (‘use it or loose it’)?
Where the section 21 notice was required to be 2 months, court proceedings for possession may not be begun after the end of six months from the date on which the notice was given.
If the notice was required to be greater than 2 months under 21(4)(b) (where the rent is quarterly or six monthly for example), proceedings for possession must not be begun after the end of four months from the date given in the notice for expiry (the date possession is required under the notice).
Subject to the next paragraph, none of the rules discussed in this article apply to an assured shorthold tenancy granted before 1 October 2015 nor to any statutory periodic tenancy arising on or after 1 October 2015 where the original tenancy was granted before 1 October 2015.
From 1 October 2018, the rules discussed in this article will apply to ALL assured shorthold tenancies in England including any that were granted before 1 October 2015 (or went statutory periodic).