RLA Find Serious Drafting Error In Rented Housing Regulations Of Proposed Deregulation Bill
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have called on the Government to delay the implementation of the proposed Deregulation Act after they found errors in the wording of the document that would expose private rental sector landlords to a legal minefield.
A major drafting error in Government regulations affecting the private rented sector risks undermining confidence in new legislation being applied to the sector.
The Deregulation Act, passed prior to the General Election, provides Ministers with the power to introduce a new standard form for landlords to complete and provide to a tenant when seeking to regain possession of a property on a no fault basis, known as a Section 21 notice.
With the form due to become legally binding from the 1st October, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has written to the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, to seek a delay following the revelation of a serious drafting error.
The standard form, as currently drafted, notes that where a fixed term tenancy ends and then turns into a rolling or periodic tenancy the Section 21 notice would only be valid for four months from the date that it is served on the tenant*.
This contradicts the Deregulation Act, which makes clear that the required period to regain possession of a property where a tenancy is a rolling or periodic tenancy, should instead be four months from the date the Section 21 notice expires**.
Despite having engaged thoroughly with the Government on its proposals, the final version of the standard form, published last week, had not been shown to the RLA.
The RLA is warning that the drafting exposes landlords to a legal minefield, and is calling for the implementation of the plans to be delayed to give more time to get them right.
RLA policy director, David Smith, said “The RLA continues to share the Government’s ambitions to ensure that all landlords understand and properly implement their legal responsibilities and obligations. In light of the major changes being introduced for the sector it is vital that all documents published by the Government are clearly understood. This drafting error will serve only to dent the confidence of landlords in the legislation. Whilst Ministers are understandably eager not to let these new measures drift, it would make more sense not to rush their implementation than face the potential legal difficulties that will now arise for landlords.”
The new regulations will require landlords to provide tenants with EPC’s, Gas Safety Certificates, and now a DCLG Booklet on “How to rent” to be eligible to serve a ‘No Fault’ Section 21 eviction notice.
The new regulations will apply to new tenancies from 1st October 2015, and then to all tenancies will be impacted from October 1st 2018.
The Statutory Instrument can be viewed in full here –The Assured Shorthold Tenancy notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015.
The new regulations will require landlords to serve relevant bits of information to tenants in order to be eligible to serve Section 21(1) or Section 21(4) notices.
Crucially: The notice cannot be served until 4 months after the tenancy starts and cannot be used 6 months after it has been served at which point a fresh one would need serving. The notice cannot be served for 6 months after a local authority has served an improvement notice or carried out emergency remedial action.
The important regulations also include:
Regulation 2 – Compliance with prescribed legal requirements: this gives landlords the legal responsibility to provide the tenant(s) with a relevant Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and gas safety certificates.
If a landlord does not provide this information tenants are not responsible for conforming to the 28 day period notice to quit.
Regulation 3 – Requirement for landlord to provide prescribed information: in this instance the information is the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) document titled “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”.
You can access the “How to Rent” guide here.
Under regulations, landlords are required to provide the most up to date version of the document at the beginning of tenancies – they are not required to provide updated version during the tenancy or if the tenancy becomes a ‘replacement tenancy’ (that is, when a tenancy renews with same tenants, landlords and basis of tenancy agreement).
The new form, and explanatory note can be found here.
It just goes to show that the people we are forced to put our faith in as a nation are at best, jumping on the bandwagon to undermine private sector landlords and at worst, these elected officials are incompetent.
At least all the other political parties were open and up front about destroying the private rental sector, while they were campaigning for the general election, but it would appear that the Conservative party prefer to introduce additional regulation and controls surreptitiously in order to get a large slice of the profits earned.
Don’t get me wrong I am all in favour of sensible legislation that protects the interests of our business and promotes tenant safety and welfare, however, the idiots in power are displaying their ignorance of the property lettings profession by putting pressure on landlords, forcing us to become unpaid Border Agency officials in order to police immigration enforcement. The Government are openly promoting an attitude of disdain towards private rental sector landlords and unfortunately all sector of society are picking up on it, making the situation even worse.
The Government are supposedly elected officials who are supposed to act in the country’s best interests, but its worrying when they can’t even get the wording of a document correct.
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