Landlords – keep up to date on your obligations in residential tenancies

Landlords have increasing responsibilities towards their tenants and a failure to observe can have knock on effects.

Stephen Thompson, Senior Chartered Legal Executive in the Property Litigation and Dispute Resolution team at Wake Smith Solicitors in Sheffield, advises.

He said: “To remove any uncertainty a landlord should seek to ensure complete compliance from the very start and watch for forthcoming legislation to keep up to speed with changes.”

On March 20, the present provisions in the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 will apply to all periodic tenancies existing before 20 March 2019.

And on April 1 this year, the Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency standard will apply to all residential properties if required to have an Energy Performance Certificate.

Looking ahead to forthcoming changes, draft Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 have been laid before Parliament.

Subject to approval by both Houses of Parliament, landlords and agents will need to ensure electrical installation inspections and testing are carried out for all new tenancies in England from 1 July 2020 or from 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies.

Stephen added: “If passed, it means private landlords will have to ensure compliance with electrical safety standards BS7671:2018 and must ensure every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified person.”

The Regulations also state that a landlord is required to obtain a report of the results of the inspection and test, supply it to each tenant within 28 days and retain a copy until the next inspection is due.

Stephen added: “Upon request, the report must be provided to the local housing authority within 7 days.

The private landlord must supply a copy of the last report to any new tenant before occupation, or any prospective tenant within 28 days of a request from the prospective tenant.

“The Regulations require local housing authorities to enforce the rules and they have the power to arrange remedial action.

“Proven breaches of the Regulations can result in the local housing authority imposing a financial penalty of up to £30,000.

“Certain tenancies are excluded from the draft regulations at present but a watchful eye should be kept.”

Stephen added: “Failure to observe can hinder or prevent the serving of a valid Section 21 (no fault) notice requiring possession to be given up.

“As from October 2015 additional requirements were imposed by the Deregulation Act 2015 and the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015.

“Initially those additional requirements only applied to tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015 but with one minor exception as from October 2018 now apply to all tenancies including those made before October 2015.

“Existing obligations placed upon a landlord, including protecting any deposit taken in a recognised scheme, providing certain prescribed information to a tenant at the start of any tenancy and a copy of the How to Rent Guide (from October 2015).

“In addition, a landlord now has to supply an Energy Performance Certificate and Gas Safety Record including annual renewals if applicable.

“There is some ambiguity as to whether all of the additional requirements apply to tenancies before October 2015 and whether a failure to provide a Gas Safety Record at the outset can be perfected by later service so that a valid Section 21 Notice can be issued.”

For further information on landlord disputes contact Stephen Thompson at 

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