New Law Requirements
- Subletting the proposal within the new budget
The Government have made a proposal within the latest budget that was released by the Chancellor that they are committed to “make it easier for individuals to sublet a room through its intention to legislate to prevent the use of clauses in private fixed residential tenants and expressly rule out subletting or otherwise sharing space on a short term basis and consider extending the prohibition to statutory periodic tenancies”
Unfortunately, Brandon Lewis the current housing minister gave a further clarification within a newspaper article that contradicted this by saying that tenants should be able to ask permission to sublet without expecting a blanket refusal in every case but the landlord should also have the right to know who is living in the property. Their proposals will mean that a tenant could ask for permission under model tenancy agreement, the landlords having the right of refusal offering reasons for that decision and within a reasonable time frame.
Obviously there is now an election in this regard and we do not know at the present time exactly how this would be legislated for.
- Smoke alarms requirement in all rental properties
There are new provisions regarding smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all residential properties. It has now been confirmed that all properties that are let out must have smoke detectors on each floor and carbon monoxide alarms next to any appliance that has a gas safety certificate from the 10th October. It will then be compulsory to fit one failing which you will not be able to rent your property out.
The fire brigade have been given just over three million smoke alarm detectors which are free. However they need to be fitted by a qualified contractor and we have had a costing of £35.00 plus VAT for each individual item to be fixed. i.e. if there were four smoke detectors one on each floor and two appliances you would need to have six fitted at a cost of £210.00 plus VAT (a total of £252.00). This will need to be completed and resolved before the 10th October.
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE SUSPECT THAT THESE FREE ITEMS WONT LAST VERY LONG AND ONCE THEY HAVE GONE YOU WILL THEN NEED TO PAY FOR THEM. IF YOU WISH TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SMOKE ALARMS, READ OUR SPECIAL POST.
TO REQUEST A SMOKE ALARM INSTALLATION BY A QUALIFIED CONTRACTOR CLICK HERE AND FILL THE REQUEST FORM OR CONTACT US AT 01273 600160
- Deregulation Bill 2015 – Section 21 and Deposit
Subsection A section 21 notices
This new bill prevents landlords from effecting (retaliatory evictions) which can occur where the tenant has made a complaint (typically about the state and repair) and the landlord responds by serving a section 21 notice to terminate the tenancy.
As the bill stands, where the tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord about the state of repair of the property, and the landlord has either failed to respond, given an inadequate response, or responded by serving a section 21, the tenant can prevent eviction by contacting the local authority, which may then serve certain types of enforcement notice on the landlord. The landlord would not be able to serve a section 21 Notice within six months of an enforcement notice being served.
It is therefore very important that all landlords ensure that works are carried out within 14 days of being requested and in the event that they are not, a reason to the tenant of why they have not been carried out. We genuinely believe that once a notice is served by the local authority then the tenant has justification in requiring a set off (they are entitled to deduct off of their rent for works that have not been carried out) we don’t see how there would be a defence to this.
It is therefore essential in future that all landlords have responsive contractors and that they know the works have been carried out and completed. If there are any queries on this then please do not hesitate to contact us.
It is important to have inspections carried out in relation to your property and if these are not currently done by ourselves then we are happy to provide this service to you at a cost. It is also important that once inspections are carried out all works that are found within them are carried out within 14 days (or a reasonable time) and if you do use your own contractors you will need to make sure that they carry this work out within that time frame. Obviously this will be part of our responsibility but we often find that landlords own contractors don’t always carry out or understand the urgency which will be the case in future.
- Service of a section 21 Notice at the start of a tenancy
The bill now limits the landlord’s ability to serve a section 21 notice at the start of an assured shorthold tenancy, requiring that it cannot be given earlier than four months after the beginning of the tenancy. Moreover, a section 21 notice will need to be used as the basis for a possession claim within six months of it being served or effectively fall away and the landlord would serve a new one to obtain possession. The section 21 used to last for a period of twelve months but no longer do. It is therefore extremely important that landlords don’t leave tenants on a month to month basis but actually get a new contract signed up.
- Section 21 after works have been carried out and completed to the local authorities satisfaction
If you are served with an enforcement Notice however you completely clear all of the works and the Council is satisfied you are not entitled to serve a section 21 for a period of six months and then thereafter when and as you do serve a Notice to Quit the tenant is entitled to leave immediately and does not have to wait two months for the notice to expire. This could leave landlords having an empty property at very short notice and any rent that has been paid in advance has to be repaid.
- Deposit and Prescribed Information and the service of documents
The bill clarifies all situations in relation to deposits. IT IS THEREFORE IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO READ THIS especially if you have had any previous tenants or tenants that have been there for a very long time.
- Where a deposit was paid in respect of a fixed term tenancy before the 6th April 2007 which then became statutory periodic after April 2007 you have 90 days from the date of the bill to register the deposit and serve the relevant information. This has to be done therefore by June 23rd.
- If you do not register the deposit by this date failure to do so would mean automatic penalties of between 1 and 3 times the deposit and the ability to use a section 21 notice to gain possession of the property and you would not be able to serve a Section 21 notice to gain possession of the property. In real terms you would have to repay the deposit in full to the tenant before you would serve any such notice.
- All deposits after the 6th April 2007 that have not been protected i.e. put into a scheme need to be placed into a scheme immediately and the correct prescribed information form must be served on the tenants.
- If a tenancy became periodic i.e. on a month to month basis on or after the 6th April but you have not subsequently served a prescribed information then you would need to do so immediately or alternatively again you will not be able to serve a section 21 notice. The only way to serve a section 21 would again be to repay the deposit so there may not be any financial penalties in this instance (one to three times the deposit) It is important therefore if you have not carried out then please do not hesitate to let us know to check this for you.
- It is not acceptable for all agents to act on behalf of landlords and put it in their own scheme.
- If you took a deposit before 2007 and this relates to not only residential but also a commercial property then you will need to register the deposit and immediately put it into a scheme and serve any prescribed information. If you do not then you cannot serve a Section 21 Notice on the tenant until you return the deposit in full. However, they are entitled to make a penalty claim against you of one to three times the deposit where there would be no defence to this. No knowledge of the scheme is not acceptable to the courts.
- If you have served a prescribed information form but have not included terms and conditions of the scheme itself and for instance the scheme we use the DPS has eleven pages of terms and conditions that need to be served on the tenant. We often find that other letting agents have no knowledge or understanding of this and do not serve the correct documentation.
NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT BECAUSE YOU CAN CORRECT THE POSITION UP UNTIL THE 23RD JUNE. AFTER THAT POINT IF YOU HAVE NOT CORRECTED ANYTHING THAT WAS WRONG YOU WILL BE LIABLE TO ONE TO THREE TIMES THE DEPOSIT AND YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SERVE A SECTION 21 UNLESS YOU GIVE THE MONEY BACK TO THE TENANT FIRST FROM THE DEPOSIT
If you wish us to do a full review of any of your properties to ascertain exactly what legal requirements are required and to ensure that they have then been signed off correctly we are happy to provide this service for you at £300.00 plus VAT per property including registering any deposit, serving all relevant notices and ensuring that you are legally correct. IF YOU DO NOT CARRY THIS OUT THEN YOU MAY HAVE PROBLEMS IN FUTURE GETTING YOUR TENANT OUT OF THE PROPERTY.
- Suspending an eviction and the problems with the energy certificate and gas safety compliances.
If you have not carried out an energy performance certificate or had a gas safety certificate carried out in your property then the tenant is automatically entitled to ask for any possession proceedings to be suspended.
- Energy Performance Certificates
Please note from the 1st January 2016 any tenant can request not only a copy of your energy performance certificate but also are entitled to ask for improvements if your energy performance certificate is on an F or G basis. You must carry out all of these improvements within a reasonable time or alternatively they are again not entitled to serve a section 21 notice served on them. There are a list of works that will need to be carried out to your property but you can choose now if you do it voluntarily what to have done and at what cost to bring your rating up to E. There are some Government schemes and we do have a Company that we can supply details of to help you.
8. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RENT YOUR PROPERTY FROM 2018 IF YOU HAVE A RATING OF F OR G ON YOUR ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATE. If you have a rating of F and G currently in your energy performance certificate then you would need to ensure that you have carried out all the improvements that you are able to do in relation to the property and show that this has been done.
If you have any doubts or need any further information, please feel free to send us an email and we will do our best to help you out.