What does the Deregulation Act mean for you?
The Deregulation Act came into force on the 27th March 2015 and contains a number of new measures which will affect landlords of residential tenancies in a few different ways. The main areas that it affects are:
- Energy Performance Certificates and Gas Safety Certificates
- Protection of the tenant’s deposit
- Section 21 notices and disrepair notices
The Deregulation Act requires landlords and agents to comply with other legislation in order to serve a valid Section 21 notice to the tenant. Parts of the act came into force with immediate affect whilst other sections, mainly regarding the changes to the Section 21 notices, will come into affect at a later date.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) and Gas Certificates
It has now been made mandatory for landlords and agents to supply tenants with a valid EPC at the point of enquiry and a Gas Safety Certificate before the tenancy begins. If the landlord or agent wants to serve a section 21 notice to a tenant at a later date, then they must prove that the tenant has been given these documents before the tenancy began and if this hasn’t been done, the landlord will be prevented from serving the notice.
To ensure compliance with the new regulations, it’s recommend that tenants are emailed copies of the gas certificate and EPC along with the tenancy agreement and documents relating to the deposit well in advance to them signing anything. And then within the tenancy agreement add a clause which confirms that the tenant has seen copies of these documents before the tenancy begun.
Tenancy deposit protection
There has been quite a lot of confusion over the last few months about what documents to serve tenants when renewing the contract which were not fully explained in the Housing Act 2004 and the Deregulation Act clarifies some of these ambiguities.
This act now means that if the tenant is moving from a fixed term tenancy to a statutory periodic contract, the deposit does not need to be reprojected which overturns the Superstrike ruling. This also applies of the tenancy is being renewed to another fixed term.
Section 21 notices
From the 1st October 2015, there will be a overhaul of the Section 21 notice process. From that date, landlords and agents will need to make sure that the other measures have been complied with before a valid Section 21 notices is served. However, there are a few new things to consider as well:
Under the current legislation, there are 2 types of notice, a Section 21(1)(b) notice which is used during a fixed term and a section 21(1)(a) which is used during a periodic tenancy. This has now been changed so that there will be one type of notice regardless of whether the contract is currently fixed or periodic, providing the tenancy originated with a fixed term.
When to serve a Section 21 notice and how long it will last
Another major change is the life span of the Section 21 notice and when it can be served. Currently, some tenants are being served a S21 notice on the day that they start the tenancy. This is now being stopped as a S21 notice cannot be issued during the first four months of the start date of the tenancy. Once the notice has been served, landlords will now only have 6 months from the issue date to initiate possession proceedings. If landlords do not initiate these proceedings within the 6 months, then it will be required to serve a fresh notice and wait for it to expire.
The Deregulation Act also focusses in on retaliatory evictions. From the 1st of October, if a tenant serves a written complaint on a landlord, the landlord must provide a written response to include the action that will be taken within 14 days of this complaint. If an adequate response is not provided to the tenant, then they will have the right to escalate the complaint with the local authority who may decide to serve an Improvement Notice or even carry out emergency remedial action themselves. Until the works have been completed and have been signed off by the local authority, the landlord will be unable to serve the tenant a Section 21 notice.
If you need any further information regarding this act, you can read the full documentation here or please feel free to call me on 01684 879110