The Government have made changes to the process in which we have to follow when serving the tenants with the relevant/correct notices.
If you have had a renewal coming up through Harringtons Lettings we will always contact you well in advance recently we have had to do this four months ahead. This is because the Government decided in March of this year to extend the notice periods for end of contract tenancies to three months.
Notice periods for Section 21s.
There are various section 21 Notices i.e. where a notice is for the end of the tenancy and these are as follows: –
1. A notice period for the end of the tenancy was extended in March of this year to three months. This means that you must serve a notice three months before the end of the tenancy itself. This would thus mean that the tenancy ends at the end of the three months i.e. the end of the tenancy itself.
1. From the 29th August of this year it has now been extended to six months’ notice. If your tenant has a contract and it finishes in the next six months’ it would then go on to a periodic statutory tenancy i.e. month to month contract. In that instance you still must serve six months’ notice before the tenant can move out. This is going to cause a huge amount of issues for most landlords. Meaning you will have to decide a good six to seven months in advance what you wish to do with the property. The idea from the Government is that it enables tenants to have security of tenure in their property for at least six months. This is not an easy decision for landlord’s, it is something that you would have to consider well in advance. If you need advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.
1. Anti-social behaviour. If the tenant causes anti-social behaviour to such an extent that you wish to give notice then you can do so upon four weeks. You would need to provide evidence of this usually from a local authority. They have noise abatement departments that can deal with these types of issues. But, you would need their backing to take the matter to court.
1. Domestic violence. If the tenant is causing domestic violence and you wish to remove him from the property then you can give them two weeks’ notice. But we will comment on later the situation re the actual court order and this is only the notice.
1. Obtaining a tenancy through fraud. You are entitled to give two weeks’ notice for this tenancy, this enables you to be able to apply to the court for a possession order.
1. Immigration status checks. You would have to give three months’ notice. But, we deal with all these for you if you are a Harringtons Landlord. They are normal right to rent checks and we must ensure that the person we are renting to is the same person we received the information from. Additionally, that they have the right to rent in the United Kingdom. This is part of our normal process. If you have other properties not with Harringtons and have not done this then it could be a problem. It is something that you need to consider whenever you are renting a property out.
1. Rent arrears of over six months. If there are rent arrears over six months then you are entitled to serve a notice. We have not had problems with arrears throughout the Covid situation with tenants. We have always communicated with them to ensure that the rent has been paid. Yet, if you have other properties and do have arrears then please do not hesitate to contact us. We always take guarantors when it comes to tenants as a requirement within Harringtons as we are fully aware of problems that can occur.
1. What happens if my tenant doesn’t leave the property would I need a court order?
If the tenant does not leave the property which can now be a rare occasion then you would need to have a court order. This is problematic. The courts are inundated with applications and all these were suspended in March, the court only opened again on the 24th August. They have an enormous amount of a backlog. We speak to our solicitors on a monthly basis to discuss any position. We do not have these type of problems at this moment in time but again if you have other properties then please do not hesitate to contact us for any free advice you may wish.
There is a likelihood that it can take at least up to a year to get a court order for any particular tenant within a property. It is important that you understand that court proceedings can take a large amount of time. The Government has put extra resources into speeding these cases along but they could take a large amount of time to get through them.
There are also new rules about taking anybody to court such as vulnerability etc and we would always suggest that you take immediate legal advice. We have solicitors that we deal with daily that could help you and please do not hesitate to request this from us.
1. Will the rules change again in the future?
We would expect that the rules will change on a regular basis over the next few months. The Government are responding to the Covid-19 situation almost daily and we have no doubt that they could change the rules at any point. At this moment in time the six months’ notice has been extended until March 2021 but it could be extended again or even changed at any point.
1. I have a property elsewhere in the country that Harringtons don’t deal with can you take this over.
Yes we can take the property over for you especially if you are having problems.
We have provisions to be able to take properties anywhere in the Country from now on and please don’t hesitate to discuss it with us. We are always looking to expand our portfolio and to help landlords especially with issues they may be having.
1. If my property goes on to a month to month basis are there certain requirements I must do?
In view of the new laws that have come into place about the notices it is important that your legal paperwork is correct. We often find where landlords do all their own legal paperwork themselves that this is incorrect and leads to problems. If for instance, you have a tenant that is in arrears and you apply to the court for a court order and the paperwork is not correct the court will not give you a possession order. You will need you to correct this and the delay could be very costly.
Where a tenant goes on to a month to month basis we have to re-serve all the paperwork again explaining that they are now on a month to month contract. This then has to be acknowledged by the tenant by way of an email so that you have a record of it. We have a special system at Harringtons that allows us to do this to ensure that it has been done correctly.
1. Are there any other rules that I need to adhere to on my paperwork?
There are a huge amount. In the last five years there has been 127 new laws when it comes to letting properties out. The main ones are as follows:-
Energy performance certificates
These have to be carried out every 10 years and we often find that landlords either don’t have them or that they have expired. They must have a least rating of E at this moment in time. If there is a rating of F or G the landlord has to carry out works to improve the rating itself of anything up to £3,000.00. If the works are not carried out then the property cannot be rented out in its current state.
Electrical Installation Certificate and PAT tests
These came into force in July of this year compulsory with tenants where they are signing new tenancies and/renewals . Any renewal after April 2021 also has to have the work carried out.
These are Electrical Installation Certificate reports showing that the electrics at the property are safe. Portable appliance tests are where you have fridge freezers, washing machines, etc. that are not built in and you can ensure that they are safe. This is particularly important as the Grenfell fire came from a fridge. If you haven’t carried these out and wish to do so please do not hesitate to contact us we can organize it for you. For a more in depth understanding on this please refer to our previous article relating to mandatory electric safety reports – https://harringtonslettings.co.uk/mandatory-electrical-safety-reports-and-pat-testing/
Gas safeties – these need to be carried out once a year. But many landlords don’t understand that you then have to serve them on the tenants within 30 days and have them acknowledged by the tenant. If you do not there is a high likelihood that you won’t be able to serve any form of notice.
Deposit protected accounts
This is the main area that we find that landlords don’t understand. There are often landlords that have the deposits protected but then don’t understand that you have to serve the documentation on the tenant. This is to include the terms and conditions of that particular scheme on the tenants and then have them acknowledge it by way of an email. If they do not acknowledge it you have to show that it has been served on them by taking a picture of it being put in either their hand or through their door. It is so important that these are acknowledged. These are all type of documents that are often not completed correctly by landlords.
If you wish to have advice on any of the above then please do not hesitate to contact us.
The Government have placed emphasis on landlords to now decide what they wish to do with properties many months in advance. The emphasis is now on landlords rather than tenants to know what they wish to do in advance. You need to plan carefully especially if you are thinking of selling the property. You might want to check when your contract is due for renewal and if you wish to serve notice. Please be aware that tenants are still entitled to serve one months’ notice at the end of their tenancy i.e. the last month itself. We often have requests from landlords to insert break clauses in tenancies but these are unenforceable. A fixed term tenancy is exactly as it should be i.e. fixed term so please be aware of this. If the property goes on to a month to month basis then the tenants can also only have to give one months’ notice to leave the property.
We will be contacting landlords over the next few weeks to discuss their renewal and if you do wish to contact us for any free advice then please don’t hesitate to do so.