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Tougher New rules for Landlords to protect tenants.

View profile for Giles Dobson
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Landlords could face penalties if they are not up to date with the latest legislation designed to protect tenants. 

New requirements from October 2018 centre around changes to Section 21 eviction notices for tenancies that were created before October 2015, to bring them in line with rules introduced under the Deregulation Act 2015.  These require landlords issuing Section 21 eviction notices to give at least two months’ notice to any tenant on an assured shorthold tenancy or periodic tenancy; also a Section 21 notice cannot be issued during the first four months of an assured shorthold tenancy and the notice is only valid for six months from the date it is given, after which a new notice must be issued. 

Giles Dobson, Dispute Resolution Partner at Martin Tolhurst Solicitors comments:  “While it’s clear that pre October 2015 tenancies are to be brought in line, there are some grey areas around other aspects of compliance for these older tenancies. For example, newer tenancies must have been provided with a Government ‘How to Rent’ guide and up to date Energy Performance and Gas Safety certificates, but it isn’t clear exactly how, or if, all of these will apply to older tenancies, so it’s worth getting some advice before serving eviction notices until the Government has clarified these details.”

Changes to energy efficiency measures requiring Energy Performance Certificates were introduced in April of this year.  The rules mean that properties provided under new tenancies and renewals need to be rated E or above on their Energy Performance Certificates, or landlords could face fines of up to £5,000.  The requirement will be extended to existing lets from 1st April 2020.

“This change seems quite straightforward, but there is some confusion over properties listed for historic purposes” said Giles.  “They are generally thought to be exempt but it’s not clear from the EU Regulations and the Government’s guidance.  These say that energy performance compliance may not be required if the necessary works would unacceptably alter the character or appearance of a building.  Owners may be well advised to get an EPC and then seek advice from their local planning authority’s conservation officer to be sure where they stand.”

Another step towards controlling rogue landlords is a database that sets out any who have been guilty of offences such as letting overcrowded properties, unlawful eviction and breaching gas safety rules.  The Government will share the database with local authorities but will not publish the information.  This has led some in the sector to criticise the decision, arguing that unless landlords and agents are named and shamed, they are likely to continue operating in the same way.