There are so many changes coming to the lettings industry, we thought it would be useful to provide a brief overview of both the confirmed and proposed changes for 2018/2019. It’s not exhaustive and may be subject to change during the course of the year!
How to Rent Guide – 17 January 2018 – England only
A new version of the How to Rent checklist was published in January. Landlords or agents with new tenancies or tenancies that have been renewed from 17th January 2018 must ensure they provide their tenants with the updated version of the guide.
Minimum Energy Levels Regulations (MEES) – 1 April 2018 – England and Wales
On 1st April 2018, the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard came in to force. Any building that is rented with a new tenancy or a renewal (including moving from a fixed to periodic tenancy) must have an energy rating of E or above, or must have an exemption from the regulations (from 1st April 2020, this will apply to all tenancies, including existing tenancies).
Homeless Reduction Act 2017 – 3 April 2018 – England (primarily)
Previously councils have waited until tenants have been evicted and forcibly made homeless following the service of a valid section 21 notice before assisting with rehousing. Under the new Homeless Reduction Act, councils will have to help people at risk of losing suitable accommodation as soon as they are threatened with homelessness. This means people should get help upon receiving a notice from their landlord if they are struggling to find a new property, rather than being told to come back when they have a bailiff’s date.
Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 – April 2018 – England and Wales
From April 2018, a landlord will be able to have a gas safety record completed up to 2 months before the “deadline date” (the date it needs to be renewed by), without losing time off the previous certificate. Rather like an MoT, you will be able to complete the certificate in advance, and the renewal date will be 12 months from the previous date, not 12 months from the date the certificate was completed as has previously been the case.
General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) – 25 May 2018 – England and Wales
From 25 May 2018, there will be significant changes to Data Protection rules. The changes will involve safeguarding tenant’s data, making sure that you only pass data on if you are legally entitled to do so, and not retaining data for longer than necessary. Click here to read the RLA’s landlord guide to data protection legislation.
Deregulation Act 2015 – 1 October 2018 – England only
From 1st October 2015, there were various provisions that came in to effect for new or renewed tenancies. From 1st October 2018, these will apply to all existing tenancies. The notable provisions are:
The requirement to have given an EPC in order to serve a section 21 notice
The requirement to have given a gas safety record in order to serve a section 21 notice
Use of new section 21 notice (form 6A)
The section 21 notice is only valid for up to six months after service
Retaliatory eviction provisions
The requirement to provide the How to Rent checklist is not required for tenancies before 1 October 2015 unless they have been renewed after that date.
Houses in Multiple Occupation and Residential Property Licensing Reforms – 1 October 2018 – England only
The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 will require any property with 5 or more occupiers where those occupiers are not related to one another to have an HMO licence irrespective of the number of storeys. Currently, there would need to be 3 storeys in addition to the 5 or more occupiers to require a licence.
Furthermore, draft minimum room size regulations have now been published. The following minimum room sizes in an HMO are likely to be applied in a HMO which requires a mandatory licence:
a sleeping room for one adult must measure at least 6.51 square metres
two adults should be no smaller than 10.22 square metres
rooms for children up to 10 years old must have an area of 4.64 square metres or more.
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability of Housing Standards) – date TBA – England only
A private member’s Bill on Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability of Housing Standards) has been proposed that will enable tenants to prosecute property owners for breach of contract if they fail to maintain rental homes to a good standard.
Penalties for failing to maintain safe housing could be fines of as much as £30,000 and banning orders to stop convicted landlords from renting out homes. The new bill will protect tenants in private properties and social housing.
Mandatory Electrical Safety Checks – date TBA – England only
Provision has been made under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 for electrical safety checks to be carried out on all specified private rented properties. The interval for the safety checks and the date from which the provision will become a legal requirement are yet to be specified.
It is already a requirement to carry out 5 yearly electrical checks on HMOs .
Banning Orders – date TBA– England only
Banning orders will be introduced for offences committed in England. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Banning Order Offences) Regulations 2017 which define the offences is still in draft form but offences that could result in a banning order include (but not limited to):
Unlawful eviction and harassment of occupier
Failing to comply with certain HHSRS notices
Offences relating to HMO licensing
Failing to comply with HMO Management Regulations
Fire safety offences
Immigration Act offences
Fraud, theft, burglary, handling stolen goods, drug offences
Proceeds of crime offences
Ban of Tenant Fees – date TBA– England only
A draft Bill has been published and has received general support. The draft bans all fees in respect of granting, renewing or extending a tenancy except charges that may be made under the Bill (e.g. rent, deposit and a holding deposit).
It’s also proposed that a deposit will be limited to up to six weeks rent and a holding deposit of one weeks rent is proposed to be allowed.
We are expecting the date of introduction to be at some point in 2019
Private Landlords (Registration) Bill – date TBA – England only
The Private Landlords (Registration) Bill was introduced to Parliament on Wednesday 17 January 2018 under the ten minute rule which allows an MP to make their case for a new Bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes.
The Bill proposes to make it a requirement for all private landlords in England to be registered. The second reading debate is schedule for Friday 27th April 2018
Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 – date TBA – Wales only
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will introduce significant changes when renting property in Wales.
The main parts of the Act which will directly affect landlords and agents are yet to be put in force and no date has yet been announced although it’s not going to be before Autumn this year. Most of the secondary legislation needed is in consultation or draft phase.
The Act will radically change almost every aspect of renting in Wales. There will be a new Occupation Contract replacing assured shorthold tenancies (and other types of tenancy). Possession notices will radically change as will many other elements.
In addition, many of the provisions already in England will be brought in to Wales by the Act such as retaliatory evictions, fitness for human habitation, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and more.