For the majority of landlords in Wales, serving the Section 21 notice is the preferred way to start the process of regaining possession of their property once the fixed term of the AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) comes to an end. Generally, this method of taking back possession is easier compared to a Section 8 notice because it doesn’t require them to provide any ground for which possession is being sought.
However, to be able to evict tenants under AST in Wales using a Section 21 notice, there are some rules and procedures that landlords must have adhered to. In this post, we’ll help you get a clear understanding of these procedural requirements to make the process hassle-free. But first, let’s take a quick look at the recent changes to Section 21 notices due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Coronavirus Act
In response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the government has enforced the Coronavirus Act 2020. The Act covers assured shorthold tenancies, fully assured tenancies, and regulated tenancies. It doesn’t apply to licenses to occupy or common law tenancies. These are the changes to the rules associated with serving a Section 21 notice.
- In Wales, as of July 24 2020, the notice period is at least six months.
- Currently, it stands for the period from July 24 2020 until March 31 2021.
It means, as a landlord in Wales if you are planning to serve a Section 21 notice to regain possession of your property, you must give the tenant at least six months notice period.
Steps to serve a Section 21 notice in Wales
The rules of serving a valid Section 21 notice are slightly different in Wales and hence, it is advisable to let a solicitor do this for you. However, if you plan to draft the notice yourself, make sure you’ve adhered to the following requirements.
- In Wales, under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, private sector landlords or their letting agents need to be licensed.
- The property is registered with Rent Smart Wales.
- The property is on AST.
- You’ve protected any deposit received from the tenant within a government-approved deposit protection scheme. You’ve also sent certain information confirming the deposit has been protected to the tenant within thirty days.
However, in case you failed to protect the deposit, you can return it to the tenant and serve the requisite information at some time later to be able to serve a Section 21 notice.
- You have provided the tenant with a valid EPC (energy performance certificate), a valid gas safety certificate, and a copy of the “How to Rent” booklet when the tenancy started.
- You or your letting agent hasn’t unlawfully charged any fees to the tenant.
- You haven’t received a “Notice of Emergency Remedial Action” or an “Improvement Notice” issued by the council within the last six months.
In addition to these, it is required that you have appropriate licensing such as an HMO license in place if it applies to your case.
One major risk you need to understand with regard to the tenant’s deposit is if you haven’t protected it and the tenant claims it in the court, you may be ordered to pay up to three times the amount of the deposit toward tenant compensation.
Other things to keep in mind
During the initial four months of an AST, you cannot serve a Section 21 notice. It is advisable to serve the notice either by hand or through a registered post. You may also serve it by email to keep a backup.
These are general guidelines on serving a Section 21 notice in Wales to regain possession of the property. There are some other important things such as the type of tenancy you also need to consider before serving the notice. Ideally, you should talk to a lawyer to keep it from being invalidated and to avoid other complications.