There have been significant changes that have become law from 1st October 2015 which can affect both landlords and tenants. Below we have given you a quick summary of information help with general guidance.. As each situation is unique we at Solicitor Direct can advise you on your particular issues, so if you have any further questions then give us a call:-
The changes relate to:
- Section 21 Notices- The notice which is served on tenants to end their tenancy
- Further responsibilities of the Landlords
- AST (assured shorthold tenancies) which start on or after 1st October 2015
Depending upon when a tenancy started the situation and requirements will be different. We’ve outlined these below to help you decide which apply to you.
For ASTs that started before 1st October 2015
In relation to serving Section 21 Notices:
- Landlords can still serve a section 21 notice at any time during the tenancy
- There is no change to the form of the section 21 notices you use
- There is no time-limit after which a section 21 notice expires – unless you give your tenants a new fixed term tenancy, or arguably if you change the terms and conditions of the tenancy, for example by increasing the rent
However regardless of when the tenancy started these rules will stop in October 2018 and the new rules will apply across the board.
For ASTs starting on or after 1st October 2015
You now need to give the following documents to tenants at the start of each fixed term tenancy:
- Gas appliance safety certificate
- An energy performance certificate (EPC)
In relation to serving section 21 notices:
- Landlords can only serve a section 21 notice after 4 months of the first tenancy
- The form of the section 21 notice has to be in the new ‘prescribed form’
- There is a 6 month limit after which a section 21 notice expires, at the present time running from the date of service
- Any health and safety improvement notice served by the local authority means no section 21 notice can be served for 6 months
- You will not be able to regain possession of your property without any of the above being dealt with correctly
Complaints about the property
Any complaint in writing from the tenant about the condition of a property has to be responded to within 14 days. The landlord has to set out in his reply:
- What he intends to do
- The timeline for doing the repair work
If the landlord then either:
- Fails to reply to the written complaint,
- Gives an inadequate reply, or
- Serves a section 21 notice
The tenant can complain to the local authority who must inspect the property. If the local authority inspects the property it can:
- Serve a remedial notice
- Carry out emergency remedial action
At this point the landlord’s rights to evict under section 21 will be held in limbo, since:
- No section 21 notice previously served will be valid
- No further notice may be served for 6 months
However, the landlord can still serve a section 8 notice, but given the repair issues, the tenant may take the opportunity to try and counterclaim to prevent possession and claim damages.
Each floor of each property requires a functioning smoke alarm from 1st October under The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
If a landlord took a deposit after 6th April 2007 but missed the deadline to get it registered by 23rdJuly 2015, then this is how the law stands.
If the landlord has not registered a deposit in a government-backed deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving the money, the landlord has to return the deposit money to the tenant immediately, as until the landlord does so they cannot serve a Section 21 Notice.
If the prescribed information relating to the deposit has not been given to the tenants and any other relevant persons within 30 days of the deposit being received, then the landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice. (‘relevant person’ presumably means guarantors, or anyone who helped pay for the deposit).
However, so long as the deposit money has been put into a scheme within 30 days, the ‘prescribed information’ relating to the deposit can be served at a later date, which then allows the landlord to serve a section 21 notice.
Do not expect the deposit scheme to provide the ‘prescribed information’ to the tenants, whatever the scheme suggests it might do. It is the landlord’s specific responsibility to make sure all relevant persons receive the prescribed information. If in any doubt whatsoever, serve the documents yourself, keeping good evidence of having done so.
Notwithstanding these difficulties over section 21 notices, any deadlines for compliance with the rules that are missed mean that the landlord will be liable to the tenant for between one and three times the amount of the deposit, should the tenant bring a claim, or a counterclaim.
With our breadth of experience and service we are able to advise both landlord or tenant on their rights and obligations, and with our letting agency service we can ensure that you are not left exposed by the changes in the regulations and to ensure the appropriate steps are taken. Speak to us and see how we can help you today.
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