Many landlords are falling into the trap of not following prescribed procedures and issuing incorrect section 21 notices, leading to increased costs, delayed proceedings and potential loss of rental income.

In the vast majority of residential tenancies a section 21 notice must be issued when a landlord wants a tenant to vacate a property at the end of their tenancy. Landlords use this procedure to terminate assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) without the need to rely on any of the statutory grounds for possession.

However, changes introduced as a result of The Deregulation Act 2015 have caused confusion among landlords, many of whom are unaware of the extra requirements that have been put in place.

A new prescribed form of the section 21 notice must now be used for all ASTs created on or after 1 October 2015, with the exception of periodic tenancies that came into being after 1 October 2015.

Landlords must also adhere to certain requirements before a section 21 notice is served. For example, a section 21 notice will be invalid if:

• the landlord has not protected the deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme; or
• the property requires a licence but is unlicensed.

Additionally, a landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice unless he or she has previously provided the tenant with:

• an energy performance certificate;
• a copy of a gas safety certificate; and
• a copy of DCLG: How to rent: The checklist for renting in England.

Failure to comply with these requirements renders a notice invalid. If this results in the case being struck out of court, this could mean a minimum 12-week delay, loss of the court fee and a possible order to pay the tenant’s legal costs.