Legislation update September 2015
New legislation and changes in regulations are coming thick and fast at the moment and it’s harder than ever for managing agents and landlords to stay safe, legal and competitive.
October 1 brings restrictions on serving section 21 notices, new rules to safeguard tenants against retaliatory evictions and smoke and carbon monoxide regulations covering both installation and testing.
Deregulation Act 2015 introduced a new Section 21 form for use in England from 1 October. Landlords cannot now issue a section 21 notice within the first four months of a tenancy and may inadvertently invalidate a section 21 notice if they have failed to issue tenants with an EPC, a Gas Safety certificate and a copy of the DCLG How to rent guide and tested the prescribed smoke and CO detectors at the start of the tenancy.
The Deregulation Act has also brought in safeguards which aim to protect tenants in England from being evicted simply because they have made legitimate complaints about the condition of a property.
Changes to smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations have caused concern amongst many landlords. The passing of the new regulations (which cover properties in England) was delayed by parliamentary recess and last minute objections in the House of Lords but they are now in place and ARLA Licensed agents have been kept up to date with articles in newsletters to ensure that all of their properties are fully compliant.
These regulations mean that from 1 October all residential lettings need smoke detectors on every floor of and carbon monoxide detectors in rooms where a solid fuel heating system is installed (this is wood, coal, biomass).
- The regulations don’t apply to gas, oil or LPG although ARLA has been calling for this (within a practical timeframe) as this would offer better safety standards for tenants.
- These alarms must now be tested at the start of every new tenancy and non-compliance can result in a £5,000 fine.
New Scottish government regulations in this area come into force on 1 December – see the ARLA website for more details.
ARLA Licensed members are using ARLA factsheets available in the members’ area of http://www.arla.co.uk covering all of these issues.
The busy period for lettings legislation is set to continue with a further roll-out of Immigration Act Landlord ID Checks – following on from phase one in the pilot area within the West Midlands – expected later this year. This will crucially apply to all landlords including resident householders with lodgers. A new Immigration Bill has just been introduced and don’t forget that letting agents’ fees to agents and landlords (including VAT) must be upfront, open, clear and transparent following the passing of the Consumer Rights Act in May. The Summer budget brought in plans for a cap on mortgage interest relief and scrapped existing Wear and Tear tax allowances which are being replaced with a system to claim the actual cost of replacement furniture.
ARLA has provided agents with a Fees and Charges template to enable members to easily comply with the law and ARLA Licensed members attend regional meetings regularly throughout the year to ensure that our legal speakers can keep them updated and answer questions on these and other issues while in between the ARLA Legal Helpline is kept very busy!
Written by David Cox, ARLA MD