Eviction specialists at Landlord Action are raising concerns as to whether there are sufficient resources, especially at local council level, to meet the demands of the new Section 21 legislation that came into effect yesterday.
From October 1 a range of changes came into force, determining whether or not a landlord can serve a Section 21 notice on an assured shorthold tenancy in England, as well as changes to the S21 form itself.
These include the use of the new prescribed Section 21 notice which combines fixed term and periodic, a provision stating that aSection 21 notice can no longer be served in the first four months of a tenancy, and a new rule stating that a Section 21 notice will now have a six month lifespan.
Despite recognising that the changes are in response to the need for best practice across an enlarged private rental sector, Landlord Action founder Paul Shamplina says he would have liked more government funding spent on educating landlords about the changes, all of which have been introduced in a relatively short timeframe.
“We still receive calls to our advice line on a weekly basis from landlords who don’t know about the deposit scheme which came into effect eight years ago” he says.
Shamplina has been a long-term opponent of changes to Section 21 aimed at outlawing what some call 'revenge evictions' - with only a small minority of rogue landlords guilty of such tactics, Shamplina maintains tenants could abuse the system and use it to remain in properties rent free for longer.
As part of the Deregulation Act 2015, tenants will now have the first four months of a tenancy to file a complaint to a landlord with regards to issues of disrepair.
“Good landlords will deal with complaints within the given 14 days but my concern is the level of resource the local authorities have in place to action environmental health officers to carry out inspections when staffing levels have been cut to the bone" says Shamplina.
"Landlords’ circumstances can change and if they need to end their tenancy, but can’t because they are waiting for an inspection or to gain access from the tenant, landlords are going to lose valuable time” he says.
If a property is considered in disrepair, landlords are unable to serve a section 21 notice for six months from the date an improvement notice is served by the council.
“I think this could lead to a huge spike in complaints from tenants. I am a bit fed up of all the frequent landlord bashing. It is about time there were more positive statements for landlords in the private rented sector" he insists.