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Landlords still falling foul of the Deregulation Act!
It has been four years since the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force and we are still receiving instructions from landlords and tenants who do not know their obligations or their rights under the laws relating to the letting of residential properties.
The impact of the Deregulation Act 2015 in a nutshell…
The Deregulation Act 2015 came into effect on 26 March 2015 and brought into force a host of obligations upon a landlord applicable from the very outset of a tenancy as well as strict requirements in relation to terminating tenancies in England, if a landlord wants his property back.
Any new tenancy commencing after 28 February 1997 is automatically an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), unless the landlord has served a notice specifically to say that it is not, so it is likely most tenancies are an AST.
From 1 October 2018, the requirements contained within the Deregulation Act 2015 on landlords applies to all ASTs irrespective of when they were granted.
The main reforms introduced by the Act:
- At the outset of the tenancy a landlord must provide the tenant with:
- Gas Safety Certificates – this must be provided at the start of the tenancy and within 28 days of each annual gas safety check.
- Energy Performance Certificates – any properties that have been let after 1 April 2018 must have an energy performance certificate rating of at least an “E” unless exempt.
- The government’s “How to rent” booklet – the government updated this booklet on 31 May 2019 and landlords ought to ensure that the updated version is provided to a any new tenant.
- The deposit paperwork – if a landlord has taken a deposit from a tenant this deposit must be protected in an approved government scheme within 30 days and the prescribed information must be provided to the tenant.
- Changes to the content and timing of Section 21 notices
- A retaliatory eviction defence that tenants can use to stop an eviction
The requirements for serving a Section 21 notice following the Deregulation Act:
- A Section 21 notice must be given in the prescribed form
A Section 21 notice is required to be served to enable a landlord to regain possession of his property from the tenant. This is the very start of the eviction process.
Following the new regulations, a Section 21 notice must now be given in the “prescribed form” and the landlord must use a Form 6A.
- Compliance with prescribed legal requirements
Before a valid Section 21 notice can be served to a tenant, a landlord must have:
- Provided an Energy Performance Certificate to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy,
- Provided a Gas Safety Certificate at the time that the tenant enters into the tenancy agreement (and within 28 days of each annual gas safety checks).
- Provided the tenant, at the start of the tenancy with a copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s booklet entitled “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”.
- Complied with the tenancy deposit scheme legislation and provided the tenant with the prescribed information relating to any deposit that had been paid.
If a landlord has not done all of the above, some of these can be corrected by a good solicitor. However, the failure to provide a gas safety cannot be corrected. In the recent case of Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz, the County Court confirmed that if a gas safety certificate has not been provided at the outset then any Section 21 notice will be invalid and that this is a “once-and-for-all” obligation, which cannot later be corrected.
- Notice periods on serving a Section 21 notice and the time limits
A Section 21 must give the tenant at least 2 months’ notice to vacate the property.
A Section 21 notice cannot be served upon a tenant within 4 months of the date that the tenancy started and once a notice has been given, possession proceedings must be started within 6 months of the notice being given or a new notice must be served.
- A retaliatory eviction defence
Landlords and tenants should also be aware that a Section 21 notice will be invalid if the tenant has raised a legitimate complaint to the landlord and/or to the local housing authority regarding the condition of the property and the landlord has received notice of such complaint.
The overall effect of the Deregulation Act 2015 is that it imposes additional hurdles for landlords right from the start of a new tenancy. For tenants this provides a higher level of protection from the very beginning of a tenancy. For landlords this means additional care needs to be taken from the outset of a tenancy and it is important for landlords to keep on top of any maintenance issues throughout the tenancy.
The regulations governing this area of law are constantly changing and both landlords and tenants need to be aware of the changes. Additionally, the pitfalls surrounding this area can be a complex matter for both parties especially if the requirements are not complied with and executed in the correct way right from the beginning of a tenancy.
If you would like our assistance or you would like to make an appointment for advice then please contact Laura Higginbottom at our Chesterfield office:
St Mary's Court, Block A St Mary's Gate, Chesterfield, S41 7TD
Our experienced solicitors; Claire Everest and Hannah Fairweather are also located at our Chesterfield office.
Offices also located at:
Derby: Gervase House, 111-113 Friar Gate, Derby, DE1 1EX.
Nottingham: Stanford House, 19 Castle Gate, Nottingham, NG1 7AQ.
Mansfield: Westgate House,1 Chesterfield Road South, Mansfield, NG18 5NR.
Matlock: Sherwood House, Holt Lane, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3LY.
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