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Legal Update February 2015

We have an election pending and government has woken up to the fact that a large proportion of the electorate live in rented housing! Of course a large percentage of MPs are private sector landlords, so it will be interesting to see how far reforms go.

Retaliatory eviction

Sarah Teather’s Tenancies (Reform) Bill was talked out by a couple of filibustering MPs last November but the main parts of the bill have been taken up by government and are now included in the Deregulation Bill. This is due to have its final reading in March after which it will probably receive the Royal Assent and become law.

This will bring in measures to make it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 if the property is not in proper repair. However tenants will only be able to block section 21 evictions if the landlord fails to respond adequately to a written complaint and their Local Authority then take up their complaint and serve a notice on the landlord.

An adequate response by the landlord is described in the legislation as being a response where the landlord sets out what he is going to do about the problem and a reasonable timescale to do it in.

Tenancy deposits

The Deregulation Bill is also set to amend the tenancy deposit regulations, again. The amendments will resolve the issue raised by the Superstrike case and landlords will no longer have to keep re-serving the prescribed information if the tenancy runs on as a periodic after the ending of the fixed term.

The amendments will also require the protection of tenancies paid before the regulations came into for in April 2007, but there will be a grace period of 90 days after the coming into force of the act, to allow landlords affected by this, time to do it.

Section 21

The Deregulation Bill will also make other changes in respect of section 21. These include:

• Landlords being unable to serve section 21 notices if they are in breach of their various statutory obligations such as the gas regulations and provision of energy performance certificates

• Amendment of the dreaded requirements of s21(4) which has tripped up so many landlords in the past (i.e. the need to put a last day of a period of the tenancy on the notice)

• Landlords will no longer be able to serve s21 notices during the initial four months of the tenancy and court claims will not be able to start before the first six months is over.

• The act also provides for the Secretary of State to specify a prescribed form for section 21 and also

• To require landlords to serve prescribed information on their tenants before a s21 notice can be served

Wales

There are even more seismic developments afoot in Wales. The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 will, when it comes into force later this year, require ALL landlords of rented property in Wales to be registered. There will also be a requirement that landlords and agents managing property be accredited and if a landlord is not accredited he will have to arrange for his property to be managed by an accredited agent.

The Renting Homes (Wales) bill will bring in yet more developments including mandatory forms of tenancy agreement.

In view of the big changes coming, my company Easy Law Training is putting on a Conference in Cardiff on 15 May. You can find out more, and also watch a video about the changes which are coming, on the website www.lllconf.co.uk/wales

No doubt there will be further developments before the election takes place and then again after the election! You can keep up with developments on my Landlord Law Blog at www.landlordlawblog.co.uk

Tessa Shepperson

www.landlordlaw.co.uk.

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