More chaos as housing minister urged to delay new Section 21 because of error

With just two weeks to go before implementation, the Residential Landlords Association has asked the housing minister to delay new Section 21 rules.

It has told Brandon Lewis that there is a “major drafting error” in the new prescribed Section 21 notice itself.

Solicitor Giles Peaker has also drawn attention to what he calls this “significant error” in his Nearly Legal blog.

Peaker has additionally criticised what he calls the “last minute approval of the Regulations”, saying that there is potential for “lots to go wrong”.

A new Section 21 form, complete with new rules, is due to become legally binding from October 1 as part of the Deregulation Act.

However, the new form contradicts the Act itself.

The form, as currently drafted, notes that where a fixed term tenancy ends and then turns into a rolling or periodic tenancy, the Section 21 notice would only be valid for four months from the date that it is served on the tenant.

In contrast, the Deregulation Act stipulates that the required period to regain possession of a property where a tenancy is a rolling or periodic tenancy, should instead be four months from the date the Section 21 notice expires.

Despite having engaged thoroughly with the Government on its proposals, the final version of the standard form, published last week, had not been shown to the RLA.

The RLA is warning that the drafting exposes landlords to a legal minefield, and is calling for the implementation of the plans to be delayed to give more time to get them right.

David Smith, RLA policy director and EYE’s legal contributor, of law firm Anthony Gold, said: “The RLA continues to share the Government’s ambitions to ensure that all landlords understand and properly implement their legal responsibilities and obligations.

“In light of the major changes being introduced for the sector it is vital that all documents published by the Government are clearly understood. This drafting error will serve only to dent the confidence of landlords in the legislation.

“Whilst ministers are understandably eager not to let these new measures drift, it would make more sense not to rush their implementation than face the potential legal difficulties that will now arise for landlords.”

Giles Peaker’s blog, in which he gives helpful further guidance, draws attention to the “significant” drafting error.

Peaker also says there are complications around the requirement for landlords or agents to give new tenants the government booklet, How to Rent.

If the booklet is not given, then a Section 21 notice cannot be served.

However, the booklet is liable to be updated. Peaker also says the requirement to provide EPC and gas safety certificates arguably before the tenant moves in “will no doubt trip up quite a few landlords and agents”.

Peaker’s excellent blog is here

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4 Comments

  1. Robert May

    Groundhog day! in the run up to April 2007 introduction I was pointing out to Cooper, CLG and eventually Blair errors in tenancy deposit legislation  that didn’t get sorted out till June of this year.

    These are staggeringly naive people whose naivety of the subject is only top trumped by their arrogance that they know what they are talking about. We are the civil service, we are the government so we must know what we are talking about. Perhaps if channel 4 do a Telly program about their incompetence David Cameron will do something about it.

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  2. Will

    Remember the days when those drafting legislation took their time to get it correct – guess not its a few years ago now.  Like the smoke & co detector regulations it is clearly being driven through too fast and without due diligence.  If you like to take a the cynical view may be it is intentional to generate more work for lawyers and we all know there are many in Government who make their income from the law!

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    1. Robert May

      They genuinely have not got the wit for that! it is simple incompetence and the need to be seen to do stuff whether or not the stuff they attempt is beneficial or detrimental.

      They had a system that worked until Yvette Cooper/CLG broke it!

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  3. mrharvey

    I don’t like being made to look a fool – not at all – and when I am sending information out to landlords and offices about new laws, and then finding out the government is turning all the legislation’s loopholes into very tight knots – it turns the entire industry into a game of hopscotch on hot coals.

    Get it right first time or don’t do anything at all – you’re the government, you should know better than to mess around with laws that put everybody in the mire.

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