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What are my landlord compliance & legal obligations?

There are many different things to consider about when letting your property and we are here to offer you the best advice we can. Please see below a number of important legislation updates which all landlords should be aware of:

Immigration Act 2016 (Right to Rent)

New provisions came into force on 1st December 2016.  The main changes, which currently only apply to England, are:

  • Ending a tenancy

There are two new ways to end a tenancy on tenants who do not have the Right to Rent. The first is a new 28 day notice which can be issued once notification from Secretary of State has been received. The second is by issuing a Section 8 Notice under a new mandatory ground 7B of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act.

  • A new criminal offence

As well as the penalties already in place, there is a new criminal offence intended to be used for the more serious offenders. A landlord (or an agent if he has failed to notify the landlord) will be liable if he has knowingly let property to tenants who do not have the right to rent; if found guilty he could face an unlimited fine or up to five years’ imprisonment.

However, you will have a defence if the correct steps have been taken to end the tenancy and evict the tenants within a reasonable period of time (which the draft guidance states is within three months of discovering that the tenant has no right to rent).

Energy Performance Certificates

All tenancies that begin after 1st April 2018 will be required to have a minimum EPC rating of E (all existing tenancies will have to comply by 1st April 2020). The regulations will prevent any landlord from letting a property with a rating of F or G until the necessary energy efficiency improvements have been carried out. A local authority could impose financial penalties on a landlord if it finds they are in breach of these regulations or unable to prove compliance.

We strongly advise that you review your property’s EPC rating now and undertake any reasonable improvements that may be necessary. It is also important that landlords check the date the EPC was carried out – they are only valid for 10 years and you need a valid EPC every time your property is marketed to let.

Liability for Common Parts - the outcome

The Edwards v Kumarasamy case was where a tenant attempted to sue their landlord after they tripped on a loose paving stone in a communal area of the building.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision on the case has confirmed that a landlord has no responsibility for the upkeep of the common parts of a property and no liability for the maintenance failures of the freeholder. However, a landlord would have a duty of care to inform the freeholder or the managing agent of any maintenance issues within the common parts.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and licensing reforms

Following a consultation in October 2016 on extending mandatory licensing of HMOs, there are new proposals which may come into force in October 2017, however, with the announcement of the general election this may be delayed. These will probably include licencing for:

  • any tenancy with five or more people forming two or more households
  • any properties above or below business premises

These are separate to selective licencing schemes that certain local authorities have recently brought in.

Serving Section 21 Notices

In order to correctly serve a Section 21 Notice to gain possession on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, and so that it is not invalid, the following must have been completed. all tenants must have been in receipt of the following at the beginning of the tenancy:

  • A valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • A copy of the government’s How to Rent Guide
  • A valid Gas Safety Record (if applicable) including any renewal (if applicable)
  • Prescribed Information
  • Deposit protection leaflet
  • Deposit certificate proving that the deposit has been registered
  • HMO licence (if applicable)

Under the Deregulation Act 2015, Section 21 notices will also be invalid where a local authority has served an enforcement notice following a complaint by the tenant about the condition of the property.

If you have any questions regarding your duties as a landlord, or are planning on becoming a landlord or would like to discuss our property management services, please contact us.

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