Deregulation toughens the rules for landlords

Landlords need to pay meticulous attention to detail to keep pace with legal changes that have followed deregulation.

That’s the advice of Zaza Oswald, partner in charge of lettings for Carter Jonas in Hampshire, who explains that under the latest changes to lettings law a variety of problems with maintenance, serving statutory documentation, and fitting safety alarms is now faced by landlords in the residential lettings sector.

“It is imperative that landlords stay on top of their legal obligations for maintenance and that they liaise closely with their managing agents,” explains Zaza.

“October 1 became a key date for landlords, bringing about the introduction of new regulations on the fitting of both smoke alarms and CO detectors that have already been widely publicised.

“But the rules with regard to Section 21 notices for possession of properties also saw important changes with the Government determining that a proscribed form of notice must now be used. The wording on this underwent last minute changes and landlords need to be aware of which form to use if they are to successfully seek repossession.

“At the same time, laws governing so-called retaliatory evictions were introduced under section 33 of the Deregulation Act 2015 with the result that landlords must follow the correct procedures with regard to property maintenance and dealing with issues raised by tenants.

“Private landlords have protection – for instance if the tenant can be shown as the cause of the poor condition of their home, either from positively damaging the property or omission – but the burden of proof is on the landlord. If it can be genuinely shown the property is on the market for sale there is also an exemption

Promoted stories

“The law also now stipulates that at the start of the tenancy, the landlord or letting agent must give the tenant details of where and how the deposit is held and copies of both the EPC and, where applicable, the gas safety certificate and the Government’s eight page booklet ‘How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England’ which is only available electronically and has to be printed at the landlord’s expense to be handed over each time. It is important to keep evidence of the serving of this paperwork.

“Landlords should attend to maintenance, essential to safeguard their investment, and ensure that they keep records. Paperwork is where most people fall down rather than property condition. With so much on which to focus, particularly now that immigration checks on tenants will be required from 1 February 2016, employing a competent letting and managing agent has probably never been more important if landlords want to keep control of their property.”