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New rules for residential tenancies

New rules for residential tenancies

Head of Debt and Property recovery Rob Winder explains the new rules affecting residential tenancies which landlords need to be aware of.

New rules relating to the information which must be provided to residential tenants came into force on 1st October 2015.

Landlords need to be aware that failure to comply with these new rules will mean that they will have limited options if they wish to obtain possession of their property back from their tenants because they will not be able to use a Section 21 Notice. (More about Section 21 Notices here - http://www.burnetts.co.uk/business/buy-to-let-residential-property/assured-shorthold-tenant-eviction-scheme/section-21-or-section-8 .) The new rules, created under the Deregulation Act 2015, apply to all tenancies created after 1st October 2015. Tenancies created prior to that date are not affected.

The new rules can be summarised as follows. 

  • A Section 21 Notice cannot be served on a tenant within the first four months of the tenancy commencing. Whilst it has always been the rule that court proceedings under Section 21 could not be commenced until the initial term had expired, it was possible to serve a Section 21 Notice at any point during the initial term of the tenancy so long as the Section 21 Notice did not expire until the end of the initial term. This is a major change in the law. 
  • The landlord is now under a duty to provide the tenant with the following documentation before the tenancy agreement is entered into. This can be done at the meeting where the tenancy agreement is being signed.  The landlord needs to provide:
    • an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property;
    • a Gas Safety certificate for the property; and
    • a copy of “How to Rent – The Checklist for Renting in England”. This can be obtained from the Department for Communities and Local Governments website (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent )
  • The Landlord needs to ensure that there are working smoke alarms on all floors of the property and that any room that has a solid fuel and/or gas heating appliance is fitted with a carbon monoxide detector.
  • In addition, if the landlord has failed to comply with the Tenancy Deposit Protection Rules for securing the deposit and providing the tenant with the “prescribed information” the Landlord can, again, not serve a Section 21 Notice.
  • A landlord is prevented from “retaliatory” evictions. This means that:
    • if the tenant has made a complaint in writing to the landlord in relation to the condition of the property and:
      • the landlord has not responded within 14 days; or
      • does not provide an adequate response or issues a Section 21 Notice in response to the complaint; and
      • the tenant then complains to the local authority in relation to the same issue;

then the local authority can issue a relevant Notice (Improvement Notice or Emergency Remedial Notice).

Once that Notice is served, the landlord cannot serve a Section 21 Notice within 6 months of the date of the Notice.

  • Finally, where a property is a House in Multiple Occupation that requires a license and the property is unlicensed, the landlord can also not serve a Section 21 Notice.

In addition to the new rules, any Section 21 Notice issued to a tenant in relation to a tenancy which commenced after 1st October 2015, must use the new form Section 21 Notice. The new form Section 21 Notice provides a checklist for the tenant to ensure that the landlord has complied with the above rules. 

Burnetts also provides a fixed fee tenant eviction scheme on behalf of landlords, details of which can be found on our website, using the following link.

http://www.burnetts.co.uk/business/buy-to-let-residential-property/assured-shorthold-tenant-eviction-scheme

For further advice or practical assistance, contact Rob Winder at rw@burnetts.co.uk or on 01228 552222.

About the author

Rob Winder profile photo

Rob Winder

Rob leads the Debt and Property Recovery team and is head of the Penrith office.

Published: Tuesday 3rd November 2015
Categorised: Buy to Lets

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