Beware Assured Shorthold Landlord – New Obligations from 1 October 2015

As you may have heard, a combination of new laws has resulted in a number of changes to landlord and tenant legislation relating to assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs), and importantly, to landlords’ obligations. The new rules will apply to ASTs granted on or after 1 October 2015. They will not apply to ASTs granted prior to 1 October 2015 even if they become a statutory periodic tenancy. However, from 1 October 2018, the rules will apply to all ASTs.



From 1 October 2015, a new prescribed form of section 21 notice will have to be served on tenants. However, before it can be served, the landlord will have to comply with the following requirements:

  1. To provide tenants with an energy performance certificate;
  2. To provide tenants with a copy of a gas safety certificate;
  3. To provide tenants with the Department for Communities and Local Government’s booklet, How to rent: the checklist for renting in England;
  4. To only serve the notice after 4 months of a tenancy have elapsed; and
  5. To repay any pre-paid rent in respect of a period falling after the expiry of the section 21 notice.

If a landlord fails to comply with any of the above requirements, any section 21 notice will be invalid.

NOTE: A landlord can only rely on a section 21 notice for a period of 6 months from the date of the notice. If a tenant remains in occupation following this period, a fresh notice will need to be served. 


New provisions relating to ‘retaliatory action’ have also been introduced which could affect the validity of any section 21 notice served.

If a tenant has made a written complaint to a landlord regarding the condition of the property or common parts before a section 21 notice is served and the landlord has not responded or ‘inadequately’ responds to the complaint but after receipt of such complaint serves a section 21 notice, the tenant could complain to the local housing authority.  They have the power to serve an enforcement notice. The service of such local authority enforcement notice invalidates the section 21 notice served.

The tenant’s complaint to the local authority will be of no effect if:

  1. The tenant is in breach of his duty to use the property in a tenant like manner;
  2. The property is genuinely on the market for sale;
  3. The landlord is a private registered provider of social housing; or
  4. The property was charged before the grant of the tenancy and the mortgagee wishes to exercise its power of sale and requires vacant possession.


In a measure, announced by the Housing Minister on 11 March 2015, to ‘protect public safety,’ Landlords will now bear the responsibility for the proper installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms prior to the start of a new tenancy.

From 1 October 2015, landlords will be required to ensure that at the beginning of the tenancy:

  1. A smoke alarm is fitted on each storey of the property where there is a room used wholly or partly as ‘living accommodation.’ A room is classed as ‘living accommodation’ if it is used for the primary purposes of living, or is a room in which a person spends a significant amount of time. The regulations specifically stipulate that a bathroom or lavatory would be classed as living accommodation. Effectively, therefore, in virtually all cases, every floor of a rented property should be equipped with a smoke alarm.
  2. A carbon monoxide alarm is fitted in any room which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance (this includes wood and coal).

If the landlord is in breach, a local housing authority can serve a remedial notice on the landlord. If the landlord fails to comply with that notice, a fine of up to £5,000 can be levied.

PLEASE NOTE: this briefing note contains information about current legal issues and is only intended as a general statement of the law – it does not give legal advice. No action should be taken in reliance on this note without specific legal advice.

For further information please contact:

nick green Nick Green
Partner, Property
divyesh popat Divyesh Popat
Partner, Litigation