Tessa Shepperson, solicitor and property law specialist looks back on law changes through 2015.
I think you will agree with me that this year has had more legal changes than we have had for a long time. This article is just a reminder of what has happened.
The Court of Appeal decision of Edwards v Kumarasamy raised a few eyebrows as the CA decided
That tenants do not need to give notice of repairs needed if the repair work is outside the property (eg to a pathway outside), and
That leaseholder landlords are liable to tenants for repairs to communal and similar areas, even if they do not have the right to do this work under their lease!
Note however that the landlord in this case has been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court so it is possible that this may change if the Supreme Court do not agree with the CA decision.
March – Deposits
The first big changes were in March when the Deregulation Act tenancy deposits came into force.
These reversed the effect of the dreaded Superstrike case. The main effects of the changes were:
Deposits paid to landlords before 7 April 2007 (when the regulations came into force) must be protected if the fixed term ended after that date
If the fixed term ended before that date, they do not need to be protected per se, but you must protected the deposit first if you want to use section 21
It was confirmed that agents names can go on the deposit protection paperwork and prescribed information
April – notices
Amendments came in to the prescribed forms for section 8 and the notice of rent increase under s13 of the Housing Act 1988
May – agents fees
New regulations under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 made it mandatory for agents to publish their fees on their websites and display them in their offices.
The fees need to be specific (no vague ‘admin charges’) and be inclusive of VAT. Agents also need to say what Property Redress Scheme they belong to and whether they have client money protection insurance.
October brought in a raft of changes mainly to section 21. They are mostly limited to properties in England where a tenancy is created or renewed on or after 1 October 2015. These changes are:
Valid section 21 notices cannot be served if the landlord has failed to serve a gas safety certificate and EPC certificate (if appropriate) and the governments How to Rent booklet
Neither can they be served within 6 months of a Local Authority Improvement Notice (plus 2 other notices) , and if the tenant had previously complained about a similar matter to the landlord, any s21 notice served after that date prior to the LA notice will also be invalid
Smoke alarms and (where there are ‘solid fuel burning appliances’ CO2 alarms now need to be fitted in all rented properties and tested on the first day of the tenancy
There is a new prescribed form of s21
S21 notices cannot be served during the first 4 months of new tenancies or
After six months after service of the notice (or four months after the start date of a notice served where the notice period is more than 2 months).
November – Wales
November saw the opening up on the Rent Smart Wales website and all agents and landlords have one year from 23 November to be licensed and (if they want to manage property) accredited.
There is a lot of discontent in Wales just now as the fees are considerably higher than was anticipated.
I think I have covered all the main points. 2016 looks set to be another challenging year with more changes coming. I will probably write about that next month!
In the meantime have a great Christmas and New Year.
Article Courtesy of: Tessa Shepperson, Landlord Law©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.