At a time when residential landlords may consider themselves to be under a constant barrage, a recent appeal case in the County Court provides further warning of the their need to remain alert.
In the case of Sebastiampillai v Parr, the judge ruled that if there is a change of landlord, the new landlord must serve fresh prescribed information on the tenant. A failure to do so will render a section 21 eviction notice invalid. Previous compliance by a former landlord does not excuse an incoming landlord from the deposit protection requirements that are set out here.
This case serves as a reminder of the importance of complying with the deposit protection rules and doing so during the strict 30 day timescale from receipt of the deposit. Landlords need to be aware that this does not just apply to the grant of new tenancies. Failure to do so means a landlord is prevented from evicting the tenant using the ‘no fault’ section 21 procedure and it leaves the landlord liable for a fine of between one and three times the amount of the deposit. Landlords finding themselves in this situation should take legal advice.
Sebastiampillai v Parr – The Facts
In this case the tenant had been in the property since July 2007 and had entered into a number of fixed term tenancies with the former landlord. A deposit was retained throughout these tenancies and the landlord had complied with the deposit protection requirements.
In July 2014, the property was sold subject to the tenancy and in September 2014 the deposit had been transferred to an account in the name of the buyers. In May 2015 the fixed term tenancy came to an end and the tenant continued to occupy under a statutory periodic tenancy. No prescribed information was served on the tenant by the new landlords at any point. In March 2018 the landlord served a section 21 notice on the tenant. A claim was issued and an outright order was granted. The tenant successfully appealed this order on the basis that the new landlords had not complied with the deposit protection requirements after the deposit had been transferred to them.
Why was the tenant successful?
The tenant argued that the deposit protection requirements had not been complied with by the new landlords, as under the legislation, a landlord must protect a deposit in a relevant scheme and serve the prescribed information on the tenant within 30 days of receiving the deposit. This was not done.
The judge agreed, holding that the legislation (section 213 of the Housing Act 2004) is clear that a new landlord must serve new prescribed information on receipt of the deposit which was transferred over by the original landlord. The judge held that the deposit was received by the new landlords in September 2014 when the DPS account was transferred to their name, and this triggered the section 213 obligations for the new landlord to serve the prescribed information. The landlord’s failure to do so rendered their section 21 notice invalid.