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Posted by on April 21, 2015

The Secretary of State, through powers conferred by statute, has passed new regulations that came into force no more than a couple of weeks ago on Monday 6th April 2015. ‘Sounds like something for the lawyers’ I hear you say.

With this particular legal update, however, I’m afraid it is imperative that both letting agents and landlords also spare some time to absorb the changes, as they concern a particularly often-used document you and I are all too familiar with – the notice seeking possession under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 for breach of tenancy.

There is now a new prescribed form for section 8 notices; this can be found in the schedules of the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015.

Why and why now?

This prescribed form of the notice accommodates the new grounds for possession as provided for under Part 5 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Mandatory ground 7A under section 97 of the Act enables a landlord to recover possession if the court is satisfied that any of the five listed conditions are met. This ground can be relied on if, for example, the tenant has been convicted of a serious offence, which was committed in or in the locality of the property. Discretionary ground 14ZA can be utilised to request that the court grant possession of a property if the tenant has been convicted of an offence during a riot in the United Kingdom.

More grounds to rely on in seeking possession?

Surely this is all nought but good news! Well, as is always the case in our field of work, with even only slightly greater powercomes much greater responsibility. Any notice dated after 6th April 2015 that does not comply with the specific format laid out in the regulations could very well be deemed invalid by the courts. Even if the claim for possession is not based on the above new grounds, a Judge could find the notice relied on by the landlord to be deficient if there is no reference to Ground 7A and Ground 14ZA in the ‘Notes on the Grounds for Possession’ section of the document.

So to avoid a catastrophic effect on your claim for possession followed by an additional wait of another two months at best before recovering your property, update your system and amend your notice! There are enough potholes along the route in landlords recovering possession of their properties as it stands, don’t let a thankfully simple legal update slip by and add to the never-ending list!

Yalini Murukathas, LL.B (Hons) LL.M
Advocate with Ashley Taylors Legal
Landlord and Tenant specialists

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