Over the last few years it has been widely reported in the media that the country has a housing crisis. With more and more people moving into rented accommodation, protecting tenants’ interests against rogue landlords has been high on the government’s agenda. Lobbyists have been calling for better protection for tenants, and landlords and practitioners have been requesting clarification on landlord’s responsibilities concerning the protection of tenant deposits.
We reported last month that the House of Lords were to discuss the Deregulation Bill. The Bill received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015 and is now known as the Deregulation Act 2015 (“the Act”). The Act covers a number of topics concerning Assured Shorthold Tenancies (“AST”).
The Housing Act 2004 (“HA 2004”) made it compulsory for landlords to protect a tenant’s deposit that was paid under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (“AST”) after 6 April 2007.
The Act makes several key amendments regarding the protection of deposits.
Deposits received before 6 April 2007
Where deposits which were received under a fixed term AST before 6 April 2007 and the tenancy became a statutory periodic tenancy after 6 April 2007, landlords will have until 24 June 2015 to register the deposit with a government approved scheme as well as serve the prescribed information.
Deposits received on or after 6 April 2007
If the landlord has complied with the requirements concerning the deposit (registering the deposit in a government authorised scheme as well as serving the prescribed information) in connection with the original tenancy, should a subsequent tenancy arise as either a statutory periodic tenancy or a renewal tenancy, there is no obligation on the landlord to register the deposit or serve the prescribed information once again.
Section 21 notices from 1 October 2015
When to serve a section 21 notice
Under the Act, the landlord will no longer be allowed to serve a section 21 notice within the first 4 months of the term of the AST.
When a section 21 notice cannot be served
A landlord will not be allowed to serve a section 21 notice where they have failed to provide their tenant with information about their respective rights and responsibilities under the tenancy. Regulations will be brought in concerning heath and safety matters that the landlord must comply with before they are permitted to serve a section 21 notice.
The Deregulation Act 2015 (“the Act”) implements measures to ensure that landlords reply to tenants’ complaints concerning the condition of the property.
If the tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord about the state of repair of the property, the landlord must respond. If the landlord fails to respond or fails to provide an adequate response (under the Act an adequate response is defined as a response that is in writing which provides the description of the action that the landlord proposes to take to address the complaint, and which sets a timescale within which that action will be taken) the tenant may complain to the local authority. If the local authority serves the landlord with an Improvement Notice, the landlord’s ability to recover possession under section 21 will be restricted.
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