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New rules for landlords come in force

Wed 11 Nov 2015

New legislation concerning how landlords manage residential property have now come into force.

Under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, residential landlords in the private rented sector in England must ensure that a smoke alarm is installed on each storey of living accommodation and that a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room that is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. 

These requirements are retrospective and for tenancies granted subsequently the landlord must also test the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are in proper working order.  

In addition, further restrictions apply to a landlord’s ability to serve and enforce a section 21 notice in relation to residential properties let on assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs). The changes are not retrospective. A landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice when a tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord about the condition of the premises or the common parts where the landlord has not responded adequately.
 
A section 21 notice cannot be given in the first four months of the AST nor in the absence of the landlord having provided the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate, a gas safety certificate and a copy of DCLG: How to rent: The checklist for renting in England.
 
Any claim for an order for possession must be started within six months' from the date the section 21 notice was given (or if a section 21(4) notice giving more than two months’ notice was given, four months from the date specified in that notice).

Mark Vinall, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood who specialises in enfranchisement and conveyancing matters, commented: "A new prescribed form of section 21 notice has been introduced.
 
"So landlords would do well to provide the prescribed information, energy performance certificate and gas certificate at the start of an AST, to make sure that these requirements have been satisfied.

"They should also be aware that they can no longer serve a section 21 notice on the first day of a tenancy."

Mr Vinall added that buy to let landlords "need to be aware of changes affecting their responsibilities to their tenants and ability to recover possession from them that came into force on October 1st 2015".

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