There has been much written in the media recently about the Government’s proposals to alter the ability of landlords of residential properties to evict tenants after giving two months’ notice. While this makes a good headline, if you delve a little deeper, there are things that tenants can to do protect themselves.
- It is usual for residential property to be let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. It is this type of tenancy which can be brought to an end with two months’ notice.
- The two months’ notice can, however, only expire once the fixed term of the tenancy has expired.
- Most tenancy agreements are granted for six months and then the tenants stay on afterwards. This means that notice can be served to end the tenancy at the end of the six month period or at any time thereafter on two months’ notice. If you want to stay in a property for longer than six months, then the obvious thing to do is to try to negotiate a longer term at the outset or, when the initial six months is coming up to expire, go to the landlord and arrange for another six months or twelve months, or whatever, to be granted to you. In that way, as long as you pay the rent and observe your obligations, you are safe until the expiry of the next fixed period.
- It is the habit of allowing tenancies to roll on after the initial period has expired that leaves people vulnerable to eviction on two months’ notice without being at fault.
- If two months’ notice is served, a landlord cannot evict the tenant without taking Court proceedings – this is a criminal offence. These proceedings take time and, often, if the tenant needs to be rehoused by the local authority, a Court Order will be required to prove that they are in need of housing. It may take some months to obtain an Order.
- Although the headlines talked about “no fault” evictions, there are restrictions on landlords using what are known as Section 21 Notices (the two month notice). Landlords cannot engage in what are called “revenge evictions”. If, for example, a property is in disrepair and the tenant has let the landlord and the local authority know this (and followed certain procedures) the landlord is not able to serve a Section 21 Notice.
The essential points to take away from this piece are
- Try to make sure that you have as long a fixed term as you need (although appreciate that you cannot bring the fixed period to an end early unless the tenancy allows you to) and;
- If you are served with a notice, take some advice. There are plenty of solicitors who are experienced in this area of law or you could talk to Shelter which is a charity employing expert advisors.
If you need any assistance, please contact Georgina Allen on 01208 72328 or email firstname.lastname@example.org