On 1 October 2018 the rather inappropriately named Deregulation Act 2015 will bring into force a number of new regulations affecting residential tenancies. These regulations are enacted as part of the Government’s attempt to provide greater protection to residential tenants. Failure to adhere to these strict rules will mean a landlord could be prevented from evicting a tenant. It’s therefore vital that landlords are completely au fait with the changes. Certainly, the potential consequences of non-compliance mean that if a landlord is not using an experienced letting agent, they should consider taking legal advice.
From 1 October 2018, the changes first introduced in October 2015 will apply to all Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs). Previously, they were limited to tenancies created after that date. The effect is that virtually all ASTs, however old, are now subject to the extra regulation.
The issues that must now be considered in all residential letting, old or new, are as follows:
- The form and expiry of the section 21 notice (the standard two month notice possession route). There is now a prescribed form that must be used for a section 21 notice and failure to do so will render the notice invalid. The notice is also only valid for 6 months from the date of service so – use it or lose it!
- Retaliatory eviction is now fully in force. This means a landlord may not be able to serve a section 21 notice if a tenant has complained in writing about the condition of the property.
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), Gas Safety Certificate and the most recent version of the ‘How to Rent’ guide (this is the one current at the time of writing) – all must be served on the tenant before a valid section 21 notice can be served. Previously it was widely thought these documents did not have to be served at the outset of a tenancy and could be served at any point up to service of the section 21 notice, but the safest interpretation of the legislation is to serve all of these documents before the commencement of the tenancy, and to ensure there is a record of this service. The ‘How to Rent’ guide must be served in hard copy, but may be served by email provided the tenant has given authorisation and provided an email address for service.
Unchanged is the obligation to protect the tenant’s deposit within a registered deposit protection scheme. This has been the case since 2007 and the consequences of failing to protect a tenant’s deposit within 30 days of receipt can be costly. Read more about this here.