The Deregulation Act came into force some time ago but on the 1st of October 2018 substantial changes were made to the section 21 Notice.
This is the notice that you serve on tenants if you wish to end their tenancy at the end of a contract. All landlords and agents now need to stop using their own notices. They must use the one prescribed form as outlined by the Government. All tenancies regardless of their start date to need to follow the guidelines. They affect when and how a landlord can now serve a section 21 notice to terminate a tenancy agreement.
Did you know? If you have a tenant on a month to month basis you now have to re-serve all the documents issued at the beginning of the tenancy. This would include the gas safety, EPC and how to rent guide. They also require acknowledgement by the tenant. You have to provide them with the details of the scheme holding the deposit and (if there is a licence) a copy of the licence itself.
We often find landlords don’t appreciate they need to serve various legal documents on the tenant. The Deposit documentation not only includes the deposit registration but also the terms and conditions of the scheme. These documents are much longer than the ones landlords often serve on their tenants. Without these terms and conditions they invalidate the notice. The below link lists the information landlords must give tenants –
Non-compliance and failure of the tenant to acknowledge the documents will have consequences. You would not be able to serve a Section 21 Notice and evict them from the property. This is critical when it comes to the gas safety certificate. It must be served within 30 days of being carried out.
What documents do I need to serve when it comes to the tenant moving in?
When a tenant moves into a property there are certain documents you need to serve on the tenants such as the following;
The tenancy agreement is the most important document you have to serve on the tenant through the whole process. It outlines exactly how you are letting the property, what the tenant can and cannot do to the property. It needs to show the names of people involved, the address of the property, the start date of the tenancy. Also the end date if possible, if not the term. The rental amount and how this will be paid. Deposit amount and how this will be paid.
It will also include tenants and landlords obligations these clauses could be things such as not painting the property, no pets etc. You need to look at whether you are going to allow pets in relation to the property. If the tenant can sub-let. Rules regarding any common areas and gardens and rent reviews.
The government has a standard tenancy agreement that you can use but you must appreciate it is totally based via the government. The current government one was recently amended to include tenants to be allowed to have pets. This is not compulsory at this moment in time. Landlords are not required to accept pets in respect of their property but you may find it easier to let if you do so. It is totally a matter for you and whether you are prepared to let a tenant have a pet at the property. If you have a leasehold property then you would need to check with your managing agents first whether the tenancy can allow pets. Sometimes the lease will clearly state you are not allowed pets.
There are various obligations within the tenancy agreement that relate to positive items for the landlords adhering to the landlord and tenant Act. It is important you have a proper agreement.
How to rent guide.
The how to rent guide is an online government document that now contains important advice for tenants. This guide outlines what to expect from your tenants, what their responsibilities are as well the landlords obligations. You have to ensure that the rent guide is supplied to the tenant before they move in or on the day they move in. It is also absolutely critical that you find the latest version. The government often update this document and if you do not provide the tenants with the right version the day they moved in then you may not be able to get them out.
Landlords are now responsible to ensure that their tenants receive a copy of the how to rent guide before the tenancy begins. It became a legal requirement on the 1st October 2015. It is good practise to have the tenants sign this and return it to you to acknowledge the fact that they have received it. The tenants are advised to read through the how to rent guide thoroughly so they can refer back to it if they have any issues.
Deposit prescribed information.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy your deposit must be registered and protected in a deposit scheme until the end of the tenancy. There are three current schemes being the TDS known as the tenancy deposit service, Deposit protection service and Mydeposits. You can read our article here on this. They have two types of schemes within each of the provides being an insured or custodial.
The security deposit or tenancy deposit is a sum paid by tenants before they move into the property. The deposit can be used to cover costs such as damage, rent arrears etc. Deposit schemes keep the monies safe and ensures you get back what you are owed at the end of the tenancy. However, you need to within 30 days provide the tenants with the details of this scheme in certain information. This can include details of the deposit amount, the address of the property, contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme administrator and the name and contact details of the landlord and tenant.
You have to ensure that the tenant is served prescribed information in the correct format and the terms and conditions of the scheme itself. It is absolutely critical that this again is signed by the tenant and returned to you before they move in.
Energy performance certificate.
An energy performance certificate is a legal tenancy document that displays the properties energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions. Most all rental properties are now required to have a valid EPC with a rating of E or above. This will change in the future and a landlord will be required to improve the EPC after certain dates. See our article here.
The EPC rating should be listed on every property advert. If it isn’t you can ask your landlord/agent for a copy. Landlords are legally obligated to provide tenants with a copy of the EPC if they request to see it.
Currently the minimum EPC rating for rental properties is E but this is expected to increase to C by 2025 but this is subject to change.
Electrical installation condition report – Commonly known as EICR.
An EICR assess the condition of electrical systems on a rental property and evaluates how efficiently they work. It ensures that electrics are safe for the prospective tenants to use and identifies any hazards that needs fixing.
It was a legal requirement from the 1st April 2021 that all properties must have a valid EICR which should be organised before the tenancy begins. This is so that any required remedial work identified in the report could be completed before the tenant moves in. An EICR is valid for 5 years unless specified within the report.
Properties cannot be legally let without a valid EICR, so it is within the rights of the tenant to request a copy if you have not shown one. Again, we would suggest you get this signed by the tenants.
Gas safety records.
A gas safety record is given after a full inspection of rentals on gas fittings and appliances. This is carried out to ensure there are no safety risks to the tenants. Landlords are legally required to carry out a gas safety check every 12 months through a gas safe engineer.
When you first move into a property you landlord must legally supply you a copy of the gas safety record.
If you stay at your property long term then the landlord also has to serve you with a gas safety every year within 28 days of the report being issued.
A property inventory isn’t always compulsory it is down to the landlord and whether they wish to supply one. It provides an in depth report of the properties contents and condition. Although inventories are not a legal require for landlords we would highly recommend them.
They complete a record of the rental property condition, this is useful in a deposit dispute.
Inventories are created for all types of rental properties, whether furnished, unfurnished or part furnished. The landlord can produce this themselves, but using a third party inventory clerk is favoured by deposit dispute adjudicators. The inventories should of course include photos of the walls and ceilings, fixtures and fittings. Flooring, doors and windows, kitchen units and appliances. Bathroom facilities, furniture if any, gardens and out buildings.
If your landlord is providing a property inventory you should receive a copy when collecting your keys. It is important you check this when once you move in and outline any differences.
If you are not sure whether you are fully compliant with your legal documentation why not ask for our free 30 minutes paperwork review? We will go through your paperwork to ascertain whether it is correct and what you can do to resolve this.
We often find having taken over documentation from other agents that they have not served the paperwork correctly. Please click here for a useful guide on all the documentation that must be served on a tenant before the move in. It is so important for landlords that the paperwork is correct. We recently won a court case where the barrister reiterated the new rules. Gas safety certificates are a prime example. Landlords carry out a new one but don’t issue it to the tenant, forgetting that they only have 30 days to serve it. They also have to have it acknowledged by the tenant which a lot of landlords don’t do. If they do not serve the gas safety within 30 days then the landlord would have to wait another year before they can serve a notice. This is so critical from now on.
Why don’t you contact our Administration Department on (01273) 749169 to discuss it.