The Deregulation Bill came into force on 27th March 2015.
The principle areas it affects are:
1 Energy Performance Certificates
2 Tenancy Deposit Protection
3 Section 21 Notices and Disrepair issues
Not all the measures come into force immediately so we will explain what is changing and when it will affect you. You will need to make some changes now, and be prepared to make some other changes in the future.
Energy Performance Certificates – THIS COMES INTO EFFECT NOW All Landlords will need to provide tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and a Gas Safety Certificate before the tenancy begins. If at a later date the Landlord wants to serve a section 21 notice on the tenant, he will need to prove that the tenant has been provided with an EPC and a Gas Safety Certificate. As with Tenancy Deposit Protection (see below), the Landlord will be prevented from serving a section 21 notice unless this has been provided.
Tenancy Deposit Protection – THIS COMES INTO EFFECT NOW The Deregulation Bill clarifies some ambiguities relating to tenancy deposit protection which were not fully spelt out in the Housing Act 2004 and which were subsequently considered and ruled on in the Superstrike case and Ng v Charalambous – both Landlord Action cases. The bill has introduced a number of different measures which cover different scenarios.
SCENARIO: a fixed term tenancy which started before April 2007 which went periodic after April 2007 – (the Superstrike position)
RESPONSE: if a landlord has not protected your deposit and served the prescribed information on the tenant – he must now do so. He now has a period of time ending on 23 June 2015 to do this without penalty. If he does not do this before 23 June 2015 then he will not be able to do it afterwards and he will have to return the deposit to your tenant in order to serve a s21 notice.
SCENARIO: a fixed term tenancy which started after April 2007 which has been subsequently renewed or went periodic
RESPONSE: provided he protected the deposit and served the PI during the first term, then he no longer have to re-protect the deposit or re-serve the PI. If he did not protect the deposit and serve the PI during the first term, then he will need to return the deposit to the tenant before he serves a s21 notice.
Section 21 Notices
There are two main changes to section 21 notices – one in relation to the form and length of notice and the other in response to so called retaliatory evictions.
Form of Notice
Currently, there are two types of notices – a s21(1)(b) which you use during a fixed term tenancy, and a s21(4)(a) which you use during a periodic tenancy, or when a fixed term becomes periodic. Going forward, if the tenancy originated with a fixed term, you can now use one type of notice regardless of whether it is currently fixed or periodic. – THIS COMES INTO EFFECT ON 1 JULY 2015
In addition to the changes in the types of s21 notice you can use, s21 notices now have a limited life span. Currently there is no limit to how long after the notice is served it can be relied on in possession proceedings. Going forward, from 1 October 2015, you will not be able to serve a s21 notice during the first 4 months of the originating tenancy. Furthermore, the notice only lasts 6 months from the date of service. If you don’t issue possession proceedings during the 6 months from the date of service, you will need to serve a fresh notice and then wait for it to expire. THIS COMES INTO EFFECT FROM 1 OCTOBER 2015 FOR ALL NEW TENANCIES CREATED AFTER THAT DATE AND WILL APPLY TO ALL TENANCIES (REGARDLESS OF THE DATE THEY STARTED) FROM 1 OCTOBER 2018
Retaliatory Evictions – FROM 1 OCTOBER 2015
If a tenant serves a written complaint on a landlord, the landlord must respond within 14 days specifying the propose action he is going to take. If the landlord does not provide an adequate written response within 14 days and the tenant then complains to the local authority who decides to serve an Improvement Notice or carries out emergency remedial action themselves, then until the works are carried out and signed off by the local authority, the landlord will not be able to validly serve a s21 notice. If no written complaint from a tenant has been received before a landlord serves a s21 notice, then it will not be affected by these provisions.