Be prepared for these landlord law changes from October 1st 2018
The laws affecting buy-to-let landlords are constantly changing, and there is a raft of new landlord laws coming into force on October 1st. All are designed to offer tenants extra protection from erroneous eviction. What they mean is that it will be harder to evict if you haven’t been a good landlord. Kind of like bowling a batsman out and then the umpire judging that it was a no ball.
In this article, you’ll learn what the new legislation is and how to ensure that the courts won’t force you to keep a tenant when you want to evict them.
Why are the landlord laws changing?
Since 2016, under the Deregulation Act 2015, new buy-to-let landlords have had to comply with updated and new statutory obligations to use the accelerated possession route to evict nightmare tenants. From October 1st 2018, these obligations will now affect all landlords who want to use a Section 21 Notice – bringing all private landlords into the same net of legislation.
Major legalities buy-to-let landlords must beware
There are several factors of which landlords must now beware and comply with. These are all designed to ensure that landlords provide a safe and habitable home for their tenants, protect their tenants’ deposits, and provide tenants with all information required by law. Here’s a rundown of the main things that will now affect all landlords.
· Deposit protection
You must lodge your tenant’s deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme, and then provide details of the scheme to the tenant. This includes why you may withhold some of the deposit, and how the tenant can reclaim their deposit.
· Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
The government is clamping down on energy efficiency on buy-to-let property. You must now provide tenants with an EPC before the tenancy begins.
· Gas Safety Certificate
Like EPCs, you will also need to provide tenants with Gas Safety Certificates. These must be provided immediately when a new tenancy begins. You must also have your property’s gas safety checked each year, and you must keep copies of all Gas Safety Certificates for at least two years.
· Condition of the property
You must ensure that your property is in a safe and habitable condition and that all repairs required are carried out in a timely manner.
· Prescribed information
At the start of a new tenancy, you must provide landlords with what is called ‘prescribed information’. This includes EPCs and Gas Safety Certificates, and also the ‘How to Rent Guide’ published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
· New time limits on Section 21 Notices
If you do serve a Section 21 Notice, there are new timing rules to adhere to:
- You cannot issue a Section 21 within the first four months of a contractual tenancy term
- If Section 21 is served under a fixed-term or periodic AST, possession proceedings must start within six months of the date of the notice. Failing to do this will nullify the Section 21 Notice.
Don’t evict to retaliate against a tenant
The Deregulation Act of 2015 also protects tenants against retaliatory eviction, when a landlord evicts because of complaints made about the condition of the property.
If the tenant makes a complaint about the condition of the property, you now have just 14 days to respond to arrange access to examine the issues raised and detail how and when you will carry out repairs.
If your tenant has made a complaint about property condition and you don’t carry out the repairs, the tenant can complain to the local authority. You could be served an enforcement notice, detailing what work must be done. If this happens, you will not be able to evict within six months of the enforcement notice being served.
There are benefits for buy-to-let landlords!
It may appear that the law is once more weighed heavily in favour of tenants, but there are benefits to you as a buy-to-let landlord, too. For example:
- The Section 21 Notice form has been simplified
- The process of eviction has been simplified
- There should be less likelihood of possession claims being rejected
Don’t get caught out by ignorance of landlord law
Live with passion,