Ending an AST
Traditionally, part of the benefit of ASTs for landlords is the relative ease with which they can be brought to an end. The tenant does not necessarily need to be at fault. In certain circumstances, all that has been required is that the tenant is given at least two months’ notice and for the tenancy to end at least six months after it began (a Section 21 Notice).
In addition to providing the requisite amount of notice and complying with deposit protection regulations, where an AST begins after October 2015, in accordance with the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 (the 2015 Regulations), a landlord must also provide the tenant with:
- an Energy Performance Certificate
- a Gas Safety Certificate (a GSC)
- How to Rent guide
All these documents must be provided before a landlord can validly serve a Section 21 Notice.
Provision of Gas Safety Certificates
Until recently, it was assumed that as long as a GSC had been provided to the tenant before serving a notice to end the AST, the Section 21 Notice would still be valid.
However, a judge in a recent appeal has found that this is not the case. The tenant was only provided with a GSC 11 months after taking up occupation. As a result, the judge declared that the landlord’s notice ending the tenancy was invalid because the GSC had not been provided to the tenant before they took occupation of the premises. The judge felt that the landlord’s breach was a ‘once and for all’ breach and therefore could not be remedied.
At the moment, the 2015 Regulations only apply to tenancies entered into after 1 October 2015. However, from 1 October 2018, these Regulations will apply to all ASTs whenever they were granted, which is likely to result in further litigation on this subject in the future. If this ‘once and for all’ interpretation is applied retrospectively, landlords may be left unable to end ASTs.
Landlords should be sure to provide a GSC and ensure the requirements of the 2015 Regulations are complied with, prior to an AST tenant taking occupation of the property. Records of this should be kept. If a GSC is not required for the property, evidence of this should be retained. This may help avoid headaches when the landlord wishes to serve notice.