Residential landlord and tenant update

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There is a lot going on in the world at the moment. And as we navigate our way through our brave new COVID-19 world, it’s easy to take your eye off the ball when it comes to managing your residential properties. Here is our handy guide to recent and upcoming changes that you need to be aware of.

Fitness for Human Habitation

From 20 March 2020 most properties let to residential tenants need to be fit for human habitation. This is an ongoing obligation and s10 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 sets out the factors to take into account in assessing fitness for human habitation. Improvement works may be required, and we would recommend regular inspections.

Extended Notice Periods

The Coronavirus Act 2020 extended the notice period for the majority of residential tenancies to three months, for any notice served between 25 March and 30 September 2020. Prescribed notices for Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies have been updated, so ensure you use the right form. Notices for Rent Act tenancies have also changed.

Stay on Possession Proceedings

All possession proceedings are currently stayed until 23 August 2020. There will be a back log of cases for the courts to deal with once the stay is lifted, and once life starts to get back to normal, whatever that might look like.

Tenant Fees Act 2019

This legislation bans the charging of fees in respect of certain residential lettings, unless it is a permitted payment. It applies to all residential tenancies from 1 June 2020 (new tenancies from 1 June 2019). Permitted payments are set out in Schedule 1 of the Tenant Fees Act 2019. There are significant fines for breach as well as a prohibition on being able to use a s21 notice.

Electrical Safety

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) (Regulations) 2020 came into force on 1 June 2020 and will apply from 1 July 2020 and to existing specified tenancies from 1 April 2021.

The standards set out in BS7671:2018 will need to be met and electrical installations must be inspected regularly (not exceeding 5 yearly) with the first inspection being before granting a new specified tenancy, or by 1st April 2021 for existing tenancies. Enforcement action can be taken by a local authority and fines of up to £30,000 can be levied.

Need help with a property dispute?

We have a dedicated team of property dispute lawyers, including Sarah Barratt, who specialises in residential tenancy matters and dispute resolution. Sarah works closely with our Agriculture, Estates and Rural Property Team to assist with any potentially contentious property matters.

If you would like further advice or assistance, please contact Sarah on 0191 2117923 or email [email protected].