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Important Updates for Residential Landlords

New laws have created additional demands on landlords and agents. It is important not to get caught out.

The Deregulation Act 2015 imposes certain requirements on landlords of property where an assured shorthold tenancy is created on or after 1 October 2015. These new rules are in addition to the existing requirements such as placing a deposit in a secured deposit scheme and serving the prescribed information.

Additional Information that Must be Given at the Outset

A landlord will be prevented from serving a notice seeking possession under a s.21 notice unless it has complied with its statutory obligations and provided the tenant with certain prescribed information. It is best practice to comply with these requirements when the assured shorthold tenancy is granted. The landlord must provide the tenant with copies of these items:

  • An energy performance certificate.
  • A gas safety certificate.
  • A copy of the booklet produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government “How to rent: The checklist for renting in England”. This will be updated over time so ensure you check you are sending out the up to date version.

Checking the Immigration Status of Tenants

The Immigration Act 2014 prohibits private landlords of residential properties from allowing certain people to occupy those properties. The prohibition is based on the immigration status of the occupiers. Landlords and agents will have to check the status of prospective tenants, and other authorised occupiers, to ascertain whether those parties have the right to be in the UK before granting a tenancy. Landlords must also make sure that someone’s right to occupy the premises does not lapse, which is an even more onerous obligation. Breaching the prohibition could lead to a civil penalty of up to £3,000. There are proposals to make a failure to comply a criminal offence.

The law will apply to all from 1 February 2016. The best way to check whether you are compliant is to use the information provided by the Home Office which includes:

  • An online right to rent tool to ascertain if a property will be affected, how to carry out a right to rent check, and information on requesting an official right to rent check from the Home Office.
  • A landlord helpline telephone number.
  • Home Office Leaflet: A short guide for landlords on right to rent to assist landlords, homeowners and letting agents in carrying out the necessary right to rent checks
  • Home Office Leaflet: Landlords’ code of practice.
  • Home Office Leaflet: Right to rent document checks: a user guide.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

From 1 October 2015 all landlords of private sector properties in England are required to comply with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. The following requirements must be complied with in relation to all tenancies including those granted before 1 October 2015:

  • A smoke alarm must be installed on each storey of the property that is used wholly or partly as living accommodation.
  • A carbon monoxide alarm must be installed in any room that is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.
  • Landlords must test and ensure that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are in proper working order at the start of any new tenancy granted on or after 1 October 2015.

Residential Possession Proceedings

The rules make the residential lettings process more onerous. It is important that the rules are followed as a failure to do so can result in financial penalties and also prevent or delay recovering possession of the property.

If you or a client require help obtaining possession of a property from a residential tenant, please do not hesitate to get in touch.