Section 21 forms, the How to Rent Guide and Confusing Changes
Yesterday (8 August 2019) the government made small changes in the Form 6A and its associated guidance. It has also recently made changes to the How to Rent guide.
The first set of changes are to the form 6A and its notes .Form 6A is the form used to serve a section 21 notice. These are to address some inconsistencies in the form and notes which were giving slightly incorrect information about HMO and selective licensing. Basically, if you do not have an HMO or selective license then you cannot issue a section 21 notice. However, if you have applied for a licence or a temporary exemption notice then you can do so. The changes are meant to make that clearer. The changes to the guidance notes are not a problem but the government has also changed the actual form itself on its webpage. However, this is a form specifically prescribed by a statutory instrument. The most recent such instrument is the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 which made alterations to the form 6A back on 1 June 2019. However, no further such instrument has been made for the new changes and so the correct form is the one in the June SI and not the one on the government website. In short, the government is propagating a form that is defective and if a landlord uses it they are at a high risk of their section 21 notice being found to be invalid. I suspect this is a mistake as the update guide on the page only mentions the notes and not the form itself.
At almost the same time on 7 August 2019 there have been small changes in the How to Rent guide. These were first noted on the nearly legal site . However, until it was highlighted there the How to Rent guide web page made no mention of the change at all in its updates and so unless you were in the habit of reading the guide from cover to cover regularly you would never have known about this.
So, the summary is that the How to Rent Guide has changed as from 7 August and the new guide should be given to all tenants with new tenancies or whose tenancies become statutory periodic after that date. The form 6A appears to have changed but, legally speaking, it has not actually changed and the form on the government website should not be used.
Hopefully this will all be fixed and a more cautious approach to updating forms and the government website will prevail in future!
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