The Court of Appeal today handed down judgment in the case of Jarvis v Evans, which has important ramifications for private landlords with properties in Wales.

In 2014, legislation was introduced in Wales aimed at delivering better housing and management standards by regulating landlords and their agents.  Since 23 November 2015, all landlords in Wales are required to register with Rent Smart Wales and those that intend to carry out letting and management functions are also required to apply for a licence.

The case of Jarvis v Evans concerned whether section 7(2)(f) of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, which prevents landlords that are unregistered and unlicensed from serving a notice to terminate a tenancy (under Section 21), includes service of a notice seeking possession, which relies upon establishing a ground of possession (Section 8 Notice).

The Court of Appeal’s judgment resoundingly confirms this is the case – a Section 8 notice served by an unlicensed landlord is invalid.

The effect of this case, coupled with the explicit prohibition in section 44 of the Act preventing service of section 21 notices by landlords that are not registered nor have a licence, underscores a framework of protections for tenants in welsh properties under the Rent Smart Wales system.

Moving forward, private landlords in Wales wishing to terminate on the basis of a section 8 notice (as well as a section 21 notice) will therefore need to ensure they are either licensed under Rent Smart Wales or instruct an authorised agent to act on their behalf.  The 2014 Act confirms that a qualified solicitor or person acting on behalf of a solicitor, falls under the scope of an authorised agent for the purposes of serving a notice to terminate the tenancy only.

In England, the position differs as it is not a requirement for all properties to be licensed.  However, there are requirements for a landlord to hold a licence where the property is a House in Multiple Occupation or in an area designated by the local authority for selective licensing. If a landlord is required to hold a licence and is unlicensed, this restricts the landlord’s ability to serve a valid Section 21 Notice on a tenant of a property in England.  However, there are currently no restrictions on the service of a Section 8 Notice relying upon a ground of possession where the relevant licence is not held by the landlord.  Against this back drop, the Government are considering abolishing Assured Shorthold Tenancies and Section 21 Notices in England.