An update on residential tenancies

Following our article on the Deregulation Act 2015 and what it means for landlords, we set out below the major changes coming into force as of 1 October 2015.

In relation to Assured Shorthold Tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015

One of the most important changes coming into force is the prescribed form of Section 21 Notice. This form is annexed to the new regulations and must be used.

The days of serving Section 21 Notices when the tenant signs the tenancy agreement will also be long gone. Landlords will no longer be able to serve Section 21 Notices when the tenants have resided at the property for less than 4 months.

In addition to the current restrictions regarding licensing and deposits, further restrictions are also being introduced so as to prevent landlords from serving Section 21 Notices where they have not provided valid energy performance certificates and gas safety certificates to tenants, and where the landlords have not dealt with tenants’ complaints concerning the condition of the property.

Landlords or their agents must also provide to the tenants in hard copy or by email (where the tenants have confirmed that they accept notices by email) the document entitled “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” as published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

In relation to residential tenancies, including Assured Shorthold Tenancies

Landlords must ensure that during any period on or after 1 October 2015 when premises are occupied under a tenancy that:

  1. There is a functioning smoke alarm on each storey of the property on which there is a room used as living accommodation (this includes a bathroom or lavatory)
  2. There is a functioning carbon monoxide alarm in any room of the property used as living accommodation (again including a bathroom or lavatory) and which contains a solid burning combustion appliance
  3. Checks are made by or on behalf of the landlords to ensure that the alarms are in working order on the day the tenancy begins if the tenancy begins on or after 1 October 2015

There are very limited exclusions as to when these regulations do not apply and advice should be sought as to whether those exclusions may be relied upon.

What does this mean for Landlords?

Checklists and procedures ought to be put in place when granting a tenancy to ensure that all prescribed information and up to date documentation is provided to the tenants and the deposits registered. This must all be completed within the correct timescales.

Landlords should also check their properties without delay to ensure that the correct alarms are in place and functioning.

Furthermore, it must be ensured that checks are carried out on the day a tenancy begins to make sure that the required alarms are in working order and the appropriate record of this obtained.

Landlords must also ensure that the correct licensing and certificates are in place and that they are actively dealing with complaints raised by tenants.

A review should also be conducted of tenancy agreements to ensure that they contain a provision allowing notices to be served on the tenants by email, and the prescribed form of Section 21 Notice used moving forward.

Our views

Unfortunately what was once a Landlord’s fail safe for evicting a difficult tenant has now become more difficult than ever. Landlords and agents must be pro-active in ensuring that they are following the correct procedures so as to enable this process to be used. Advice should be sought if in any doubt so as to avoid complications later.

If you would like any more information in relation to this article then please feel free to contact me via email: panayiota.ioannou@bowlinglaw.co.uk.

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