The Deregulation Act and its effect on rented residential properties
Landlords should be aware that the Deregulation Act 2015 has introduced a number of major changes to residential lettings, most notably in relation to the grant of a tenancy and the service of Section 21 Possession Notice.
The Act came into force on 1st October 2015 and, since 1st October 2018, applies to all assured shorthold tenancies, whether granted before or after 1st October 2015.
Certain documentation has to be supplied to the tenant at the outset of the tenancy. These are:-
- How to rent guide
- Energy performance certificate
- Gas safety certificate (if the property has gas)
A Section 21 Notice cannot be served unless and until, all these documents have been supplied to the tenant. Consequently, any notice already served where this has not been done will be invalid.
It has been a requirement for some years for a landlord to obtain an energy performance certificate (EPC) for a property if they are letting it out to a tenant. The EPC gives an energy efficiency rating for the property ranging from A – G.
An EPC for an AST granted since 1st April 2018 must have a rating E or above. From next year, all ASTs whenever granted must have a rating of E or above. Consequently, landlords may wish to consider measures to improve the energy efficiency of any properties currently rated F or G.
A new prescribed form Section 21 Notice (6A) must be used, whether the tenancy was granted before or after 1st October 2018.
Notice cannot be served within the first four months of the tenancy.
A notice also now has a shelf-life of six months. If a possession order is required an application must be submitted to the court within six months of the date on which it is served, failing which a fresh notice will be needed.
To address the perceived problem of “retaliatory eviction” (where a tenant has been served with notice after making a complaint of disrepair), a landlord is no longer able to serve notice under Section 21 if the tenant has made an allegation, reported it to the local authority and the local authority has served notice on the landlord requiring relevant works to be carried out. In such a situation notice cannot be served until all works have been undertaken to the satisfaction of the local authority. Consequently, any notice already served will be invalid.