In September 2014, Emma-Louise Bradley, Assistant Solicitor and Victoria Khandker, Senior Associate Solicitor in the Property Litigation department at The Wilkes Partnership LLP, discussed the trend in residential landlords increasingly trying to resolve disputes with tenants without the assistance of solicitors. They explained that this can sometimes cause more problems to the landlord resulting in them losing money and/or a delay in matters being resolved. The enactment of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“the ASBCPA”) now presents further reasons why landlords should seek legal advice as soon as they start encountering problems with their tenants.
ASBCPA came into force in October 2014. Part 5 of ASBCPA introduces new anti-social behaviour grounds for landlords to rely on to recover possession. New grounds 7A and 14A have been introduced into the Housing Act 1988. These new grounds assist landlords where they have tenants who also subject to separate criminal or anti-social proceedings. This is hugely beneficial to some landlords as the Court must make an order for possession if the conditions set out in Part 5 are met.
However, it may also affect those landlords who are not suffering anti-social behaviour. From 5 April 2015, new form Section 8 notices need to be served when giving notice to tenants on any of the grounds set out in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988.
Emma Louise Bradley comments “As ASBCPA only came into force very recently, it is not clear what action the Court will take if an old form Section 8 notice has been served on a tenant on a ground other than ground 7A after 5 April 2015. However, there is the possibility that the Court will deem the notice to be invalid because the new form was not used.”
Victoria Khandker continues “The safest thing is for all landlords to use the new form Section 8 notice from 5 April 2015 onwards regardless of what ground they are relying on to recover possession to ensure that the Court does not throw out any subsequent possession proceedings on the ground of procedural irregularity. Simply copying previous Section 8 notices served is risky!”
ASBCPA provides a new avenue for evicting tenants that was not previously open to landlords. Indeed, some landlords may be unaware of ASBCPA’s provisions and the new ground 7A. It is always advisable for landlords to obtain legal advice on the possible possession grounds available to them before notices are served as this may result in an easier and quicker resolution than initially envisaged by the landlord. Further, it ensures that the correct notice is served at the correct time so that no problems later arise when possession proceedings are inevitably commenced.
Lawyers in the Property Litigation Department can assist landlords who are encountering a difficult situation with their tenants. If you wish to discuss any such issues in further detail, please contact Emma-Louise Bradley or Victoria Khandker on 0121 710 5925/5843.