Landlords must ensure they’re complying with complex lettings legislation every single time they rent out a residential property. Non-compliance with the law can have serious consequences, from significant fines to making it impossible to serve a Section 21 notice, which means it’s vital that landlords stay up to date with the frequent changes to the law. Here’s a - by no means exhaustive - guide to the key pieces of lettings legislation landlords need to know in 2019.
Meet minimum energy efficiency standards
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented, and you must have an EPC before you advertise your property for rent. EPCs give properties an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and are valid for 10 years. It’s been against the law to let residential or commercial properties with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of less than E since 1st April 2018, but landlords with existing tenancies were given a further two years to make improvements to their rental properties to bring them up to the minimum standards required. This means landlords will need to spend up to £3,500 towards improving rental properties that have an F or G rating to bring them in line with the minimum energy efficiency standards, which must have a minimum of an E rating from 1st April 2020.
Carry out right to rent checks
In England, landlords renting out a residential property must check that all tenants aged 18 and over are legally allowed to rent. You will need to ask them for original documents that prove they can live in the UK, make and keep copies of these documents and record the date that you checked them. You need to check every tenant, even if they’re not named on the tenancy agreement, the tenancy agreement isn’t in writing or if there isn’t a tenancy agreement, before the start of a new tenancy. You must check all new tenants - it’s against the law to only check people you think are not British citizens.
Comply with the Tenant Fees Act
The Tenant Fees Act came into effect on 1st June 2019, banning all tenant fees unless they were specifically made permitted payments under the law. The Tenant Fees Act also placed a one-week cap on holding deposits and regulated how long these can now be held and placed a five-week cap on tenancy deposits for properties with an annual rental income of less than £50,000 per year and a six-week cap on tenancy deposits for properties with an annual rental income of more than £50,000 per year.
Protect tenancy deposits
Deposits for assured shorthold tenancies that started after 6th April 2007 must be protected in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP). In England and Wales, deposits can be registered with the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Landlords must put deposits in a scheme within 30 days of receiving it and, at the end of the tenancy, must be returned within 10 days of the landlord and tenant agreeing how much the tenant will get back.
Provide tenants with relevant documentation
There are four key documents landlords must provide tenants at the outset of a tenancy:
- The ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide as either a printed copy or, with the agreement of the tenant, as a PDF by email.
- A gas safety certificate at the beginning of the tenancy and within 28 days of each annual gas safety check.
- The prescribed information about the relevant deposit protection scheme.
- An Energy Performance Certificate.
Landlords cannot evict tenants with a Section 21 notice for tenancies that began or were renewed after 1st October 2015 if they haven’t provided tenants with the above documentation.