John Todd of AMD Solicitors looks at Assured Shorthold Tenancies in the wake of the Deregulation Act 2015
Just when landlords thought their position could not be more restrictive or complex, the Deregulation Act has imposed further restrictions. Although the Deregulation Act came into force in April 2015, it only applies to new or replacement tenancies after 1 October 2015. The principal changes are:-
A new version of the Notice seeking Possession.
The Notice can no longer be served in the first four months of the tenancy.
The landlord must now, at the commencement of the tenancy, provide:-
A gas safety certificate and
An energy performance certificate.
Service of the Government’s “How to Rent” booklet, which is only available in electronic form online and so will need to be printed out, unless the tenant consents to it being sent to him/her by email.
The landlord also needs to be aware that retaliatory eviction is no longer an option. Up until now there have been occasions where a tenant has complained about the condition of the property to which the landlord’s response has been to serve a Notice Seeking Possession. It will be comforting for tenants to know that if they make a written complaint about the condition of the property the landlords will be unable to serve their (Section 21) Notice within six months after service on the landlord of one of three specified Local Authority notices, the most important of which is an improvement notice. Clearly this means that the Local Authority will have to support the tenant’s complaint, but if the Notice is served after the complaint, it will be invalid if the complaint is subsequently upheld by the Local Authority.
As stated above, the new provisions only apply to new or replacement tenancies after 1 October 2015 but landlords will need to take care when considering service of a Notice Seeking Possession of the property where the tenancy began before 1 October 2015 or after it. Landlords would be strongly advised to obtain specialist advice on their position before serving the required Notice. Equally, tenants who are served with a Notice would be strongly advised to seek specialist advice as to whether the Notice is valid or not.
Just one more cautionary note, which is that when seeking possession of a house in multiple occupation (HMO), there are additional conditions – following the Housing Act 2004 – and on which specialist advice should be sought.
AMD are pleased to advise in these situations and contact can be made with Chris Brown at our office at 2 Station Road, Shirehampton, Bristol BS11 9TT (tel. 0117 923 5562) or John Todd and Charlotte Williams at our office at 100 Henleaze Road, Bristol BS9 4JZ (tel. 0117 962 1205).