Residential landlords are facing increased legislation as the government looks to increase protection for tenants and use landlords to police the immigration status of tenants. This article explores the recent and forthcoming legislative changes which impact on Landlords across the UK.
Smoke alarms and Carbon monoxide alarms
For new tenancies granted after 1 October 2015, landlords of residential properties must ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on each storey of a rented residential property and that a carbon monoxide alarm is fitted in a room where there is an appliance which is capable of burning solid fuel (which would include log and coal burning fires).
Some residences, including student accommodation, are excluded, otherwise a smoke alarm will need to be located on each floor where there is living accommodation.
The local authority is responsible for taking enforcement which could result in fines of up to £5000 for any breach.
Once such alarms are fitted, landlords should regularly check that they are working to avoid any enforcement action.
Tenancy deposit schemes and Prescribed information
Given the uncertainty in the original legislation regarding Tenancy deposit schemes, recent legislation has sought to clarify requirements in this regard.
For new tenancy agreements entered into from 1 October 2015, a prescribed form of Section 21 Notice has been introduced – this standardised format should reduce the number of court delays caused by mis-drafted Section 21 Notices.
The new requirements also prevent landlords from serving Section 21 Notices unless they have complied with the requirements for protecting the tenants deposit and have also strictly complied with the Prescribed information which must be provided to the tenant at the outset.
‘Rent Smart Wales’
Landlords in Wales will face increased regulation from November 2015. Legislation has been introduced which will require landlords to register under the new licensing scheme from 23 November 2015. Landlords will be required to carry out an on-line registration process (fee £33) which will include details of the rental properties they own in Wales together with any details of managing agents. Landlords will then need to decide whether they wish to apply for a licence in order to enable them to manage the properties themselves (rather than through an agency which must also be registered). The fee for applying for a licence is £144 and landlords are required to attend a one day course as part of the application process. The licence is then valid for 5 years and may be revoked if the landlord is deemed to no longer be ‘fit and proper’.
A tenant’s ‘Right to Reside’
From February 2016, landlords will be required to check that a new tenant is able to reside legally in the UK – landlords will need to check visas or other residency information to ensure that tenants are permitted to live in the UK. Copies should be taken of any documents provided by the tenant as evidence of their right to reside. If the tenant is unable to provide such documentation, the landlord may apply to the Home Office for a ‘right to rent’ check and a reply should be provided within 2 days. Landlords should keep any copy documentation for the length of the tenancy; any failure to comply with these requirements could lead to a fine of up to £3000 per tenant.
Article Courtesy of: Lisa Gibbs, Simpson Millar, November 2015