Have you dipped your toe into the private rented sector yet? If you have then you’ll have quickly realised that you are subject to some legislative requirements that haven’t previously bothered you as a social landlord. Here are some of the most recent legislative changes, and some clarification about existing requirements:
The ‘How to Rent Guide’
You will know that it is a requirement to provide a copy of this to your tenant if the letting is not a social tenancy. For the avoidance of doubt, this must be a printed copy or PDF attachment to an email. It is not sufficient to send your tenant a hyperlink to where the guide can be found. Older versions of the guide itself suggested that a link was sufficient. This has been changed in the revised version issued on 17 January 2018. You may ask, what’s the risk? Well, if you don’t serve it correctly, you cannot rely on a S21 Notice and the accelerated procedure to recover possession.
EPC Certificates from 1 April 2018
With effect from this date, landlords are prohibited from letting any properties that do not meet the minimum energy performance standard. If you let a property (after 1 April 2018) with an EPC rating lower than ‘E’ you may be subject to penalties. This applies to new tenancies to both new and existing tenancies. From 1 April 2020, it will apply to all lettings, existing or new.
Possession proceedings – are you using the right form?
If you are issuing claims under the accelerated procedure yourselves (after service of a S21 Notice), be sure to use the correct form. There is now (already in force) a new claim form (form N5B) which requires landlords to answer additional questions. If you use the old form and don’t answer the questions, your claim could be thrown out.