The law now gives more protection to tenants who are told to move out after they ask their landlord for a repair. This action by landlords is called retaliatory eviction.

Sections 33 and 34 of the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force from 1 October 2015.

This prevents a section 21 (no fault two months’ notice to leave the property) from being served for a period of six months, if you have made a complaint about the condition of your property to your landlord, and they failed to acknowledge the problem or undertake the repairs. The disrepair needs to be verified by Portsmouth City Council, and a relevant notice will be served on your landlord.

This only applies to assured shorthold tenancies granted after 1 October 2015.

These provisions do not apply where a statutory periodic tenancy arises on or after 1 October 2015, or the end of a fixed term tenancy which was entered into before 1 October 2015.

For advice see the government’s guide how to rent, or see page 11 of the retaliatory eviction guidance for information on the complaints process.

Service of a Section 21 Notice after a Housing Act 2004 notice has been served

Where a relevant notice has been issued in relation to the property, no section 21 notice may be served in relation to that property within six months from the day of service of the notice or, if the notice has been suspended, within six months from when the suspension ends.

A relevant Housing Act 2004 notice is:

  • an improvement notice served under section 11 of the Housing Act 2004 (improvement notices relating to category 1 hazards),
  • an improvement notice served under section 12 of that Act (improvement notices relating to category 2 hazards), or
  • a notice served under section 40(7) of that Act (emergency remedial action).

When the six-month rule does not apply

The starting point is that once a Housing Act notice has been served, no section 21 notice may be given within six months. This is the case even if any works contained in the notice are completed within the given time-scales.

However, there are a number of exclusions where, despite the six-month prohibition, a section 21 notice may indeed be given at a time of less than six months from the Housing Act notice. These exclusions are-

  • If the improvement notice was served in error and as a result the whole improvement notice is revoked under section 16 Housing Act 2004, a section 21 notice may be served after the notice has been revoked.
  • If the landlord requests Portsmouth City Council to revoke an improvement notice on the grounds it was served in error and we refuse, the landlord can appeal to the first-tier tribunal about the refusal. If on appeal the first-tier tribunal decision is to revoke the notice, a section 21 notice can be served.
  • If an appeal against the improvement notice on other available grounds (such as works not necessary etc.) is successful at the first-tier tribunal and the notice is quashed, a section 21 notice may be served after it has been quashed by the first-tier tribunal.
  • If an appeal is made to the first-tier tribunal against Portsmouth City Council taking emergency remedial action which reverses the notice, a section 21 notice may be served after the reversal by the first-tier tribunal.

Finally, the six-month rule does not apply if at the time the section 21 notice is given, the dwelling-house is genuinely on the market for sale.

Information a landlord must provide for a new tenancy starting on or after 1 October 2015

At the start of a new tenancy, the landlord should provide a tenant with certain documents. These include the following:

  • A valid Energy Performance Certificate. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) contains information about how much it will cost to heat the property. It also offers recommendations about how to reduce energy costs and save money.
  • A valid annual Gas Safety Certificate. A Gas Safety Certificate is proof that the gas appliance has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Each gas appliance must be checked and certified each year.
  • A copy of the Department’s “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” guide. This can be provided in electronic format as a PDF if the tenant has notified the landlord, or a person acting on behalf of the landlord, of an e-mail address at which the tenant is content to accept service of notices and other documents given under or in connection with the tenancy. Otherwise, the guide should be supplied in paper copy. This is a short booklet that gives tenants key details about their rights, and what they should expect from private renting. It also gives information about what to do if there is a problem during the tenancy.