By Tom Bodkin
Scott Fowler Solicitors
RESIDENTIAL landlords should already be aware of the Deregulation Act 2015 (DA 2015), which introduced new requirements in relation to new tenancies since 2015 but now applies to all Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England, as of 1 October 2018.
These strict requirements apply to all ASTs of properties in England, regardless of when the AST was granted. It is, therefore, prudent to ensure landlords are compliant with these new rules to protect their interests.
As a result of the new rules, which primarily relate to the way in which ASTs can be granted and terminated, restrictions have been placed on the landlord's ability to serve a Notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, to terminate the AST i.e. obtain possession.
The rules prevent a landlord serving a Section 21 Notice unless they have first complied with obligations pursuant to section 38 and 39 of the DA 2015, which require the landlord to have provided the tenant with the following:
1.An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC);
2.A Gas Safety Certificate; and
3.A copy of the current version of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government - How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England.
A topic of debate is whether or not a landlord can comply with the requirements of the DA 2015 late, i.e. after the AST has already been granted. There has, however, been a recent non-binding case in the County Court where it was held that the Gas Safety Certificate must be provided to the tenant at the start of the tenancy, in order to be able to serve a valid Section 21 Notice. As a result, the landlord was not entitled to possession in that case.
In the circumstances, we would advise all landlords to carry out a 'compliance check' to ensure that they have provided their tenant(s) with the EPC, Gas Safety Certificate and How to Rent Booklet. Landlords may wish to consider agreeing a surrender of the AST with their tenant and granting a new AST, ensuring compliance with the DA 2015.
To make sure you stay up to date with constantly changing landlord laws, contact Tom Bodkin at Scott Fowler on 01604 750506 for more information or visit the new website www.scottfowler.co.uk