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Many of you may have come across a new documentary series on channel 5 called ‘Housing Yorkshire: somewhere to call home”, well episode two was aired at 9pm on Wednesday 11 April and part of it was based in Sheffield.
The episode brought to life the struggles some tenants face when confronted with the possibility of eviction and it showed the reality of the situation when a self-admitted alcoholic who was a former NHS nurse was served with a s21 Notice.
Some of you may question what is a s21 Notice? what do I need to do and by when? and where do I need to go?
A s21 Notice, refers to section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and it is a written notice which the Landlord can serve on a tenant at the end of their Assured Shorthold Tenancy in order to allow the Landlord to take back their property.
The Deregulation Act 2015 made further amends to the procedure of a s21 notice and at the time of writing this article, this does not apply to those tenancies that are commenced prior to 1 October 2015, however come October 2018 they will apply to all tenancies regardless of commencement.
Firstly in order to put a tenant on notice of eviction, a tenant has to receive a written s21 notice, if a tenant does not receive this then they have a potential defence to the landlord taking back the property and the tenant can apply for an adjournment to the court in order to allow time to file a defence or to potentially strike out the claim.
The notice also has to be on the prescribed form 6A (in writing) and a clear 2 months-notice has to be given to the tenant or longer if their contract states. If this is not complied with then there is a potential breach of the rules under s21(1)(b) or s21(4) Housing Act (1988) and again the tenant could apply to strike out the claim of the landlord.
It is also worth noting that the tenant cannot be served a s21 notice in the first 4 months of their tenancy start date under s21(4B) Housing Act (1988) and again the tenant could apply to strike out the claim of the landlord should they be served with a s21 notice within this 4 month time frame.
It is further worth noting that should a tenant be suffering from a disability and they believe that the s21 notice was issued due to their disability, the tenant could argue that there is an equality argument here and a potential breach of s15 and s35 Equality Act (2010) and the tenant can apply for adjournment of proceedings to allow time to file and serve a defence.
Should proceedings be commenced, the claim has to commence within six months from the date that the s21 notice was given to the tenant, if not then the tenant could apply to strike out the claim under s21(4D) Housing Act (1988).
In relation to any deposit the tenant may have paid with regards to the tenancy if it was not placed in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) within 30 days of the tenancy start date and if it has not been returned to the tenant prior to the service of the s21 notice then the tenant can apply to strike out the claim or ask for an adjournment to allow time to file a defence.
Furthermore, if the landlord does not provide the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and a gas safety certificate prior to the commencement of the tenancy or prior to serving the s21 notice then the tenant can argue that there is a potential breach under reg 6(5) Energy Performance of Buildings Regulation (2012) and reg36 (6) or (7) Gas Safety Regulations (1998).
If the s21 notice is valid the landlord should make sure that the statement of truth on the claim form is signed by them or their solicitor otherwise the tenant can apply to strike out the claim.
If the tenant has to give up possession in 14 days and is likely to face ‘exceptional hardship’ then the tenant can apply to extend the date of possession under s89 Housing Act (1988).
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant and you are seeking further information or representation then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Bell & Buxton.