As of today (1 October 2015) new rules come into force which will change the responsibilities of landlords who let properties in England when it comes to three key issues:
1. Retaliatory evictions
The Government has addressed this issue as part of the Deregulation Act and it means that landlords must follow new rules to ensure they will be able to regain possession of their property.
What will it mean for landlords?
A landlord will not be able to end a tenancy using the section 21 (s21)/ no fault procedure for 6 months if a tenant’s complaint about the state of repair of the property has been verified by a local authority inspection, and the local authority has served either an improvement notice or a notice of emergency remedial action.
What kind of complaints will it apply to?
Only complaints about serious issues will apply. This includes:
- Concerns that the issue might cause a potential risk of harm to the health or safety of the tenant, or a family member.
- A problem with the heating, especially in colder weather.
These rules do not cover minor issues, such as a dripping tap, or changing a lightbulb.
For more examples of the sorts of repairs covered by these rules, see the Department’s publication, ‘Renting a Safe Home: A guide for tenants’.
How will it work in practice?
The Government has put together the below flowchart as part of the guidance which can be found here.
2. Changes to Section 21
New Section 21 form
There’s a new s21 notice template: form 6A. This is now the new standard s21 notice which must be used in respect of all new tenancies from 1 October 2015. It will make it more straightforward for landlords to end a tenancy where they are allowed to do so.
See here for more information including downloadable forms
New prescribed information to serve tenants
At the start of all new tenancies from 1 October 2015, landlords are now required to provide tenants with the following documents:
- A valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
- A valid annual Gas Safety Certificate.
- A copy of the Department’s “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” guide. This guide is accessible for free on the Department’s website:
NOTE: If these documents have not been supplied, the landlord cannot serve a Section 21 notice.
The Government has issue guidance which can be found here.
For more information regarding the changes see here.
3. Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm requirements
The NLA supports any measure to ensure the safety of tenants and we already advise that smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are installed in private rented properties as best practice.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 now state that landlords in England will have to provide a smoke alarm on every storey of a rented property which includes living accommodation and a CO detector in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance.
NOTE: there is no grace period and any landlords found in breach of this regulation are liable to face sanctions of up to a £5,000 civil penalty.
The Government has provided guidelines for landlords to guarantee that they are following the regulations, available here.
NOTE: There is no mandated type or specification of device which must be installed with regard to fire or CO alarms. However, the NLA recommends that landlords fit alarms which comply with the relevant British Standard. Examples of such units may be found here.