Back to Basics: The requirements for serving a valid Section 21 Notice to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy

November 22nd 2023

Following his speech on Tuesday 7th November 2023, King Charles confirmed that the proposed Renters’ Reform Bill will not be coming into place as imminently as we first thought. Until such time the Renters’ Reform Bill is enacted, landlords of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) are still able to serve a Section 21 Notice, to evict their tenant on a ‘no fault’ basis. However, an issue we see a lot in practice, is that the documents which are required to be served on the tenant, prior to the notice being served, are either missing, incomplete or have expired, making the notice invalid. This then causes a delay in recovering the property, as all the documents have to be served on the tenant, along with a new notice, giving the tenant a further 2 months to vacate.

In this article, I will be explaining which documents are required to be served by landlords or their managing agents, so there are no issues when the matter is passed to us, for us to serve the notice and issue accelerated possession proceedings on your behalf.

The Requirements: as set out by the Deregulation Act 2015

  1. Firstly, if the tenant has paid a deposit in relation to the tenancy, this deposit must have been protected within 30 days of receipt by the landlord or their managing agents. The deposit must have been registered in a Deposit Protection Scheme and the tenant should have been provided with the prescribed information for the chosen scheme. Once the deposit has been protected, a Tenancy Deposit Scheme Certificate is generated and should be forwarded to the tenant. This certificate can then be relied on as part of the accelerated possession claim to evidence that the deposit has been protected.
  2. The second document the tenant must have been served with is a valid Energy Performance Certificate for the property. Ideally, this would have been served prior to the tenant occupying the property.
  3. Thirdly, if there is gas at the property, the tenant must have been served with a valid Gas Safety Certificate, ideally before they move into the property and for each year of occupation in the property since.
  4. Finally, the tenant must have been served with the ‘How to Rent’ Checklist which was in force at the time they moved into the property, and any newer versions of the checklist which have come into force during their occupation of the property.

It is important to note the date each of these documents were provided to the tenant and to provide evidence where possible, as we are required to include these dates in the claim form.

Circumstances where a Section 21 Notice cannot be served:

It is also important to note that a Section 21 Notice cannot be served on the tenant where any of the following circumstances apply:

  1. It is less than four months since the tenancy started, or the fixed term provided in the AST has not ended, unless there is a clause in the AST allowing early termination by notice;
  2. The property is categorised as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and the landlord does not have a valid HMO licence from the council;
  3. The tenancy deposit was not protected within 30 days of receipt;
  4. The council has served an improvement notice on the property or a notice saying they will carry out emergency works on the property, within the last 6 months;
  5. If the landlord or managing agent has not repaid any unlawful fees or deposits that were charged to the tenant e.g. a holding deposit, in accordance with the Tenant Fees Act 2019.

If you are a private residential landlord and would like some further advice on the requirements for serving a Section 21 Notice or whether you would like us to serve this on your behalf, please get in touch here or call on 01295 204000 and we would be happy to assist.

The long-awaited ban on Section 21 “no-fault” evictions will not be brought in until a new court process and stronger possession grounds for landlords are in place, the government has confirmed.