Whether you are a corporate landlord or a private landlord with a property portfolio, preparation from the very beginning of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is required in order to recover possession at the end of the term.
A Court Order is normally a pre-requisite to recovering possession of a let property, unless the tenant leaves of their own accord. The serving of one of two notices is the first step in obtaining a Court Order under the relevant legislation (Housing Act 1988 as amended):
- Section 8 Notice – for possession during the term of the AST;or
- Section 21 Notice – for possession at the end of the AST’s term.
Section 8 Notices can only be served if the AST agreement reserves the landlord’s right to do so. Care must be taken to ensure the landlord’s rights are fully protected in the agreement. Many freely available AST agreements can cost more in the longer term than a professionally drafted document tailored to your requirements.
The new prescribed Section 21 Notice makes preparing the Notice easier, however, hurdles remain. Failure to protect the Deposit or serve the “Prescribed Information” at the start will render a Section 21 Notice invalid. Increasingly, complaints about property condition and Local Authority issued Improvement Notices are being used by tenants to render otherwise valid Section 21 Notices ineffectual.
Further to the April 2016 Court fee increase to £355 it is more important than ever to get the foundations of a case laid properly to avoid problems later on.
The following steps will reduce potential ‘litigation risk’ when seeking possession:
- Health check AST documentation
- Protect deposits swiftly
- Be familiar with current regulations
- Consider using professional managing agents
- Consult a solicitor at the first sign of a dispute.
For further advice please contact our dispute resolution team.
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