A plethora of new regulations have been introduced in recent months and years, while plenty of existing legislation has been substantially updated, all of which landlords must keep up to date with if they are to ensure they continue to let a property in accordance with the law.
PainSmith Solicitors, a highly regarded specialist in property law, has provided an invaluable guide to some of the most recent changes for landlords, which are summarised below.
However, you can click here for the complete version of the company’s legal update.
Immigration Act 2016
The Immigration Act 2014 imposed an obligation on landlords or their letting agents to ensure each tenant aged 18 or over has a valid visa that allows them to rent a property in the UK. It also ruled applicants must show a passport or similar ID document and that this must be done in person. The penalty for non-compliance is £3,000 per person, although this is reduced to £1,000 for a first offence.
It was updated in the form of the Immigration Act 2016, which came into effect on 1st December 2016 and means landlords can now also face up to five years in prison if they break the rules. The Home Secretary is now entitled to serve notices on landlords informing them they must evict tenants with no right to rent and they will be prosecuted if they do not.
Serving the correct notices
For tenancies commencing after 1st October 2015, a Form 6A must be used in order to gain possessions. If a tenancy began before this date, older forms can still be used. However, landlords must remember that a Section 21 notice cannot be served in the first four months of a tenancy or if the tenant is not in possession of a current EPC, gas safety certificate and the government’s How to Rent handbook.
New laws also prevent landlords serving retaliatory eviction notices. The government believed some rogue landlords failed to carry out repairs on their property and tenants did not complain as they were worried about being evicted. However, certain procedures – such as providing an adequate response to a request for repairs within 14 days, including a summary of action to be taken – must now be followed by landlords. Failure to do so will invalidate any Section 21 notice served.
Housing and Planning Act 2016
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 became law in May 2016 and is due to be enacted in 2017. It covers four crucial points for landlords: electrical safety, client money protection, banning orders and rent repayment.
Experts believe regulations will make Portable Appliance Tests and electrical safety checks on wiring mandatory, with penalties for non-compliance. Parliament is currently looking at the issue of client money protection and legislation stating landlords or their agents must use an accredited scheme for holding client money is expected. Similarly, rules permitting 12-month bans for rogue landlords are anticipated and those landlords who let a property illegally could also face having to repay up to 12 months’ rent to tenants under the Rent Repayment Orders act.
Court of Appeal cases
A number of interesting cases have been heard in the Court of Appeal and set a precedent for all UK landlords. In Sternbaum v Dhesi the tenant made a claim against the landlord after suffering an injury as a result of the property not having a bannister rail. While the court found there was no breach of the Defective Premises Act 1972 and the landlord was not penalised, the outcome may have been different if the tenant had claimed under the Housing Act 2004 or the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
The case of Levett-Dunn v HHS Property Services found the notice given by the tenant was still valid even though it was served to an incorrect address for the landlord, as the landlord had failed to provide an updated address. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer Plc v BNP Paribas ruled if the tenant gives notice after paying the rent and the notice period expires before the end of the rent period there is no apportionment of rent.
Leaders landlords can rest assured we will always comply with all aspects of the law on their behalf when letting their property and looking after their tenancy.
For expert lettings advice and guidance contact your local Leaders branch.