1 October 2015 – a key date for residential landlords

Two pieces of legislation are coming into force this week that all residential landlords and tenants should be aware of. Emma-Louise Green, an Assistant Solicitor in the Property Litigation department, considers the De-Regulation Act 2015 and The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. The Acts could well have consequences for all landlords of residential property.

The De-Regulation Act 2014 came into force on 27 March 2015 with some provisions relating to tenancy deposit schemes taking effect on that date.   This article is concerned with the further provisions that come into force on 1 October 2015.

In respect of Section 21 notices, there are five key changes in addition to the form of the notice itself being amended:-

  1. Landlords will have to provide prescribed information to tenants at the outset of a tenancy;
  2. There will be no requirement for the date specified in the Section 21 notice to be the last day of a period of the tenancy;
  3. A landlord will not be able to serve a Section 21 notice within the first four months of the tenancy;
  4. There will be a right for tenants to claim back any rent that they have paid in advance where a Section 21 notice brings a tenancy to an end before the end of a payment period;
  5. Once a Section 21 notice has been served, a landlord will only have 6 months to issue proceedings on the back of that notice.

These new rules will only apply to tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015.

Emma-Louise Green comments as follows “The requirement for the date to be specified in the Section 21 notice to be the last day of a period of the tenancy has long caused confusion to landlords. It is a welcome relief that landlords now only have to give 2 months’ clear notice in the Section 21 notice as opposed to linking it to the end of a tenancy period. However, the provision prohibiting landlords from serving a Section 21 notice within the first four months of the tenancy will cause annoyance to many landlords who, as a matter of course, serve Section 21 notices on their tenants at the outset of the tenancy. The new changes may well render it practically impossible to serve the Section 21 notice so that it expires at the end of the term. In addition, the requirement to provide prescribed information to tenants is onerous on landlords. This will create an administrative burden on landlords and could potentially leave landlords in difficulties when they come to evict the tenants if the requirements have not been complied with.”

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 also come into effect on 1 October 2015. The regulations apply to England only but apply to all tenancies, new and existing, from 1 October 2015. The regulations impose strict requirements on landlords to ensure that they have fitted working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties where appropriate. There is also an obligation for the alarms to be checked at the outset of each new tenancy. These requirements will be enforced by the local authority who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 if a landlord does not take steps to comply with a remedial notice.

The De-Regulation Act, in particular, is wide ranging and it has not been possible to discuss all of the new provisions in this article. There is also scope in the De-Regulation Act for further provisions to be added by secondary legislation. However, these changes are important and getting it right now could prevent serious problems later on, when seeking to evict a tenant. If you or anyone you know would like more information about the forthcoming changes, please contact Emma-Louise Green of this firm on 0121 710 5925.