Landlords – Are you compliant?
Alex Byard is a regular blogger for Taylor&Emmet specialising in landlord and tenant issues. In this article she explains the most recent rules and regulations that have come into effect for landlords…
1. Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force 1 October 2015. These impose obligations on private landlords in England to provide carbon monoxide detectors in their rental properties.
The purpose of the Regulations is to reduce the number of injuries or deaths from smoke or carbon monoxide poisoning in the private rental sector. Under the new Regulations, a smoke alarm must be installed on each storey of the premises that are wholly or partly used as living accommodation. A carbon monoxide alarm must also be installed in any room that is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.
The landlord must also ensure that the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in proper working order at the start of a new tenancy (a new tenancy being a tenancy granted on or after 1 October 2015).
If landlords fail to comply with the new Regulations, the local Housing Authority must serve a Remedial Notice, specifying the premises to which the Notice relates; details of the breach and the remedial action required. You must either comply with the Notice or make written representations against the Notice within 28 days.
If you fail to comply with the Notice, the Housing Authority must arrange for an authorised person to carry out remedial action. If you fail to comply, fines can be up to £5,000.00.
2. Changes to Section 21 Notices
In order to gain lawful possession of the premises from your tenant, there are certain steps that are required. The first is to send a Notice upon your tenant advising you require the premises back. This will be either under Section 8 or Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (commonly referred to as “Section 8” or “Section 21” Notices).
The new Regulations, the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 will apply to assured shorthold tenancies (“AST”) granted on or after 1 October 2015. They will not apply to a fixed-term AST granted prior to 1 October 2015, even if the fixed-term AST becomes a statutory periodic tenancy.
The Regulations will, however, apply to all ASTs from 1 October 2018.
A new prescribed form must be used (Form 6a). This new form cannot be served upon a tenant unless the landlord has provided the tenant with:
a. any due performance certificate free of charge;
b. a gas safety certificate;
c. a copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government booklet, “How to Rent: the Checklist for Renting in England”.
The Regulations provide that the new Section 21 Notice cannot be used where:
a. the tenant has resided in the property for less than four months;
b. the landlord is prevented from retaliatory eviction;
c. the landlord has not protected the deposit under a Debt Tenancy Deposit Scheme;
d. the property requires a licence, but it is unlicensed;
e. the landlord has not complied with the new Regulations (as set out above).
1 FEBRUARY 2016
3. Right to Rent
From 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England will have to check that new tenants have the right to be in the United Kingdom, before renting out the property. This will be known as the “Right to Rent”.
Under the new Rules, landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s “right to rent” will face penalties of up to £3,000.00 per tenant.
If you fall into one of the following categories, you will need to make “right to rent” checks if you:
a. are a private landlord;
b. have a lodger;
c. are sub-letting a property;
d. are an agent appointed by a landlord to make the “right to rent” checks.
There are, however, some landlords who will not need to make the checks.
Under the “right to rent”, landlords should check identity documents for all new tenants and take copies. This should include the following:
a. check that adult tenants will live in the property as their own or only or main home;
b. ask tenants for the original documents that show they have the right to be in the United Kingdom;
c. check the documents are valid with the tenant present;
d. make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you make the check.
The Government has provided guidance as to what will be accepted as documentation to show that the tenant has the right to be in the United Kingdom. Acceptable documents include:
• United Kingdom passport
• EA passport
• identity card
• permanent residence card or travel documents showing indefinite leave to remain
• Home Office immigration status document
• certificate of registration or neutralisation as a British citizen
The introduction of new tenancy rules and regulations can be daunting, particularly for inexperienced landlords. If you need further guidance about legal changes affecting the rental property sector, always seek advice from a specialist solicitor.
If you are interested in finding out more about the topic of this blog, contact Alex on 0114 218 4289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.