Earlier this year, the Deregulation Act 2015 introduced changes to tenancy deposit protection law to resolve issues raised by the Superstrike Ltd vs Rodriguez case in 2013. The Deregulation Act also contained a number of new requirements for landlords which come into force today (1 October 2015). As part of our commitment to helping you keep abreast of changes to the Private Rented Sector, we’ve summarised the changes for you here.
Changes to eviction procedure
Where a landlord has failed to address a tenant’s complaint about the condition of the property they’re renting, and the local authority has both verified the complaint and served either an improvement notice or a notice of emergency remedial action, the landlord can’t evict the tenant for 6 months, and must also complete the repairs demanded by the local authority notice. By introducing this law, the Government hopes to protect tenants against retaliatory evictions.
The Act also introduces changes to simplify the process of eviction for landlords in cases where it’s justified. A new form has been introduced for use when applying to court for a ‘no-fault’ (section 21) eviction, and is designed to reduce the likelihood of cases being thrown out on technical errors which lead to increased costs, lost time and inconvenience for landlords. The form must be used for all tenancies starting on or after 1 October 2015. Use for tenancies starting before this date is optional but encouraged. You can find the form in the snappily titled document The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 No. 1725, which can be accessed here.
There are also some additional new rules on evictions and the information which must be provided to tenants before landlords can start the eviction process. More detail on these will be available in guidance available on the Government website from today (1 October 2015).
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations
To reduce the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning to tenants, Parliament has approved new regulations, meaning from today, 1 October 2015, private sector landlords will need to have installed at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their properties, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance such as a coal fire or wood burning stove. This applies to all tenancies, not just those starting on or after 1 October. Landlords must ensure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. It has been suggested that they’ll even need to have them tested on the day tenancy begins, to properly ensure they are in working order, rather than a few days before. An alarm failure in the intervening days between the test and the tenancy commencing could result in a breach and the potential for a large fine to be imposed. To find out more, download the Government’s explanatory booklet for landlords.
The Government will be updating their ‘How to rent’ guide to reflect the changes that have now come into force, helping to ensure both landlords and tenants are clear on their key rights and responsibilities and improve standards in the private rented sector.