Does failing to be licensed under The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 prevent a landlord from serving any notice seeking possession, or just a section 21 notice? That was the issue in a county court appeal in Evans & Evans v Jarvis, County Court at Swansea, 20 August 2019 (unreported elsewhere, I’ve seen a note of judgment.)
The Evans were the assured shorthold tenants of Mr Jarvis. Substantial rent arrears had accrued and on 15 December 2018, Mr J served a section 8 notice. Possession proceedings were then brought on the basis of that notice. At first instance, possession had been given and a late appeal was brought (with permission) by the Evans.
The basis of the appeal was that Mr J had not been licensed as a landlord under the national licensing scheme at the time of serving the notice and that the notice was therefore invalid.
Mr J admitted that he was not personally licensed at that time, though his company was (but the company was not the landlord here), and he had subsequently become licensed on 22 July 2019 – shortly before this hearing.
However, Mr J argued that the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 does not mention Section 8 notices and therefore does not specify any requirement for those serving such notices to register or be licensed. Section 44 invalidates a section 21 notice if certain criteria not met and it is argued that this does not apply to Section 8 notice. Mr J referred to the Rent Smart Wales website, which he said says that the scheme does not restrict ability of landlords to issue a section 8 notice.
The Evans argued that section 7 H(W)A provides at Section 7(1)
The landlord of a dwelling subject to a domestic tenancy must not do any of the things described in subsection (2) in respect of the dwelling unless – (a) the landlord is licenced to do so under this Part for the area in which the dwelling is located…”
Subsection (2) includes ‘serving notice to terminate a tenancy’.
There was nothing that excluded section 8 notices, they were simply not expressly mentioned. The mention of section 21 at section 44 of the H(W)A was distinct.
Further, any statements on the Rent Smart Wales website were not in any way binding on the court.
HHJ Garland Thomas held that he was satisfied that Section 8 is a notice within section 7 of the H(W)A, the Act was brought into effect, or these sections, to protect tenants who were unregistered or unlicensed, and there is no reason why Section 8 should not come within that act. There is nothing which excludes Section 8, it is simply that it is not mentioned. However the wording of Section 7 is clear and it is clear that the Landlord of a dwelling subject of a domestic tenancy cannot serve notice to terminate tenancy: it is not qualified in any way.
Appeal allowed, with conditions on payment of rent and contribution to arrears.
My thanks to Civitas Law for the note of judgment.