News: New Tenancy Regulation Comes Into Effect

The Deregulation Act 2015’s new tenancy regulations came into effect in October, affecting all tenanted properties in England. Among the changes are new rules regarding Section 21 notices, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and more. It’s important that landlords are fully aware of these changes to ensure that they are complying with the law – failure to do so could result in fines or the invalidation of Section 21 notices.

Changes to Section 21 Notices

Section 21 notices are used to evict tenants at the end of their fixed term. Under the new regulations, landlords can no longer issue a Section 21 notice within the first four months of tenancy.

And if a landlord has been issued a Relevant Notice by their local council regarding the condition of a property, they cannot then use a Section 21 notice for the next six months – this is in order to prevent retaliation evictions against tenants who have raised complaints.

Mandatory Documents to Provide

Under the new rules there are several documents that a landlord must provide to each tenant in their property:

  • EPC energy efficiency certificate
  • Gas safety certificate
  • DCLG How to Rent Guide
Failure to provide these documents at the start of each tenancy could render a Section 21 notice invalid, so it is important for landlords to ensure that all of the above are provided from the outset.

Mandatory Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

All tenanted residences now require a smoke alarm on every floor, which must be tested at the start of each tenancy. Landlords who do not comply with this new regulation could be reprimanded with a fine of £5,000.

Similarly, rooms with a solid fuel heating system - burning wood, coal or biomass -must also be fitted with a carbon monoxide detector. This too should be tested at the start of each tenancy. For the moment gas, oil and LPG heating remains exempt.

Further Changes Ahead

Landlords should expect further changes ahead too. Immigration Act Landlord ID Checks have been trialled in the West Midlands, and are going to be rolled out elsewhere in the country later this year.

Under this new legislation all landlords – including those with lodgers – will be expected to ensure that their tenants have unlimited right to rent before they are allowed into the property. Two groups of people have unlimited right to rent in the UK:

  • British citizens, EEA and Swiss nationals
  • People who have the right of abode in the UK, or who have been granted indefinite leave to remain or have no time limit on their stay in the UK
In Scotland, new electrical check requirements will also come into force in December. All Scottish privately rented property covered by the Repairing Standard must have fixed wiring checks carried out every five years. And in addition, all appliances not directly connected to the electricity supply should be PAT tested, tenants’ belongings notwithstanding.

The new rules will come into effect for any new tenancies entered into on or after the 1st December 2015 (including old tenants signing a new lease), and will apply to all existing tenancies from the 1st December 2016.

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