Section 21 allows landlords to legally and reasonably ask tenants to leave (with two months’ notice) without having to provide a reason, but their ability to serve a valid Section 21 notice rests on a number on a procedural steps which have to be undertaken during the tenancy
Most of the steps need to be carried out at the beginning of the tenancy. Failure to do so invalidates any attempts to evict a tenant using a Section 21, which is why it’s vital that experienced letting agents are involved in setting up a tenancy and not just in the securing of a tenant.
Here are the five things landlords must do at the start of a tenancy if they want to issue a Section 21 notice at any point during it.
Provide tenants with an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
This one should be easy to remember, as it’s mandatory for the particulars of a rental property to include an EPC or for one to be made available where necessary (with a £200 fine for properties that do not comply). If a tenant has not been provided with an up-to-date EPC by check-in, any Section 21 notice is invalid until they’ve seen one.
Have a valid Gas Safety Certificate (also known as a CP12)
It is a legal requirement for all rental properties to undergo a gas safety check, carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer, and tenants are entitled to a copy of the CP12. If you haven’t adhered to the gas safety legislation surrounding rentals, serving a Section 21 notice is the least of your problems.
Serve your tenant with a How to Rent guide
Although this isn’t a legal requirement, failure to do so will totally negate your right to issue a Section 21 notice. It can be delivered either as a hard copy or via email (as specified by the tenant) but without evidence that you provided it, you might find it hard to evict your tenant.
Provide your tenants with information about their deposit
Tenants have the right to know which scheme their deposit is being held under, and that the scheme is one of the three recognised by the government.
Check that you protected the deposit within 30 days of the tenancy's start
It’s not enough just to protect a tenant’s deposit, it has to be secured through a registered scheme – and within 30 days of the start of the tenancy. Otherwise (you guessed it!) you won’t be able to serve a Section 21 notice.
Each of the issues listed above is a standard one – and one that an experienced letting agent could take care of in their sleep. But you’d be surprised how easy it is to miss something simple – particularly if you’ve got a lot of properties in your portfolio, or the property is being managed by the landlord.
For more information about all the elements required to serve a successful Section 21 notice, why not download our free Section 21 Checklist and make sure you get things right the first time?