Now we’re at the halfway mark for 2019 we wanted to highlight some of the most important legislation changes to have taken effect this year, along with a run- down of what’s still to come.
Here are the key changes:-
Tenant Fee Act 2019
You will no doubt be aware from reports in the national press and through various TV channels, any fees charged to a tenant for granting a new tenancy, the renewal and continuance of a tenancy has been banned and is now in force with effect from 1st June.
Security Deposits will be capped at the equivalent of 5 weeks (where the total annual rent is under £50,000) and holding deposits, if taken, must be the equivalent of 1 week’s rent. It is important to remember that these elements of a tenancy will be governed by law and requires changes not only to documentation but also the processes relating to the way in which tenancies are executed. Time frames and strict rules will apply to the holding deposit and any deposits which were taken in relation to existing tenancies will have to be reduced if they are above the 5 weeks cap if the tenancy is renewed.
No fees in relation to renewals, inventories, check-in/check-out, missed appointments will be permitted. A tenant will be required to receive any repayment of fees taken within 28 days of the offer being made. Please note that the penalties will be quite severe – an initial fine of £5,000 and then possible fines of up to £30,000 and a knock-on effect if you wish to serve notice. Trading Standards will be the enforcement organisation overseeing this legislation.
Further information on the Tenant Fee Act is available online
How to Rent Guide
Please note that the current Section 21 Notice was also updated by the Government on the 31st May which now includes the Tenant Fee Act 2019.
Landlords cannot use the section 21 (no fault) eviction procedure unless an up-to-date version of this guide has been provided to the tenant.
Landlord Licensing Scheme
Liverpool City Council (LCC) has recently completed their 12 week public consultation for renewal of their controversial citywide Landlord Licensing scheme.
City-wide selective licensing was introduced in Liverpool on 1st April 2015. The scheme will end on 31st March 2020, and LCC is planning to continue with the licensing of all privately rented properties in the City.
We at Andrew Louis, oppose blanket licensing and submitted our response as part of the consultation process.
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
Having come into force on 20th March, this requires that landlords ensure their property is free of any hazards and is fit for human habitation. Properties breaching the updated legislation will be liable for court action from tenants. The Act amends the existing Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 by extending the obligations in that legislation.
The law is designed to empower tenants to take legal action if their property is found to breach the guidelines, and to improve property conditions within both the private and social sectors.
What else is set to change?
The Government announced its intention to abolish section 21 notices subject to public consultation.
The section 21 notice is a minimum two months’ notice served on an assured shorthold tenant when the landlord wants to gain repossession of the property. Since no reason is needed to serve the notice, it is commonly used for reasons such as rent arrears as it is arguably easier than having to dispute in court regarding other motives.
In short, with the removal of Section 21 we can expect to see changes in the Section 8 to strengthen the rights of Landlords.
Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (EPC)
The minimum threshold of an E Rating on an EPC certificate came into force on 1st April 2018 and applies to all new lets and renewals. The rules will be extended to all tenancies come 1st April 2020 and all existing tenancies must be brought up to this new standard by the 2020 deadline.
Electrical Installation Checks
Whilst the implementation date is not yet known, the government appears committed to introducing mandatory five-year electrical installation checks on private rented housing in England.
With so much change surrounding legislation and 170+ pieces to comply with, landlords need to make sure that they dont fall foul of the new rules and regulations.