New lettings legislation still passing during the pandemic, says Landlord Action’s Legal Director
Lettings legislation unrelated to Covid-19 has still been passing during the pandemic, says Tim Frome, Landlord Action’s Legal Director, and letting agents and landlords need to keep abreast of changes to Electrical Safety Standards Regulations, right to rent, and Section 21.
“There is legislation that has gone under the radar,” says Tim Frome, Landlord Action’s Legal Director. “Everyone’s aware of the legal issues brought about by the pandemic that people are facing on a day-to-day basis. But the government has still been passing other lettings legislation.”
Tim, who discusses the most recent changes to the eviction process in a Goodlord webinar, says the new electrical safety regulations fall into that bracket. The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 June 2020 and applied to new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and will apply to all existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. Landlords must have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is “qualified and competent”, at least every five years and landlords have to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants.
“All properties are going to need to have one of these checks and a report provided to the tenants,” says Tim. “Landlords need to try and find a local, qualified person that can undertake these checks and think about this now, really, because they don't want to be waiting until April. The benefit of these reports is they do last for five years, so once you get it done and it's done. But something that a landlord might need to take into consideration is that the electrician may say that some remedial work needs to be done to get the property up to the relevant standard first.”
Right to rent and the repeal of section 21 should also be on both letting agents’ and landlords’ radars. Right to rent could be set for further changes with the Brexit transition period coming to an end and Tim suggests “keeping an eye on this area”. In the meantime, recent changes, such as the introduction of an online checking service, will hopefully make these checks “easier for landlords and letting agents to comply with”.
Tim also thinks that letting agents and landlords’ should prepare for the end of section 21 next year. “It was in the Conservative party's manifesto and some work has already begun in the drafting of the Renters’ Reform Bill. It's likely that they'll do some work around the other grounds that a landlord might use to need their property back. They should strengthen the outstanding rent and other breach of tenancy type grounds to hopefully make it easier for the landlord to use those if necessary,” he says. “It’s been pushed into the long grass a little bit, but I know it's still on the government's agenda.”