From changes in health and safety to the right to rent, landlords are being warned to make sure they are aware of the changes in order to avoid hefty fines.
1) Health and safety regulations
At the time of writing, these regulations are awaiting parliamentary approval and the full details are yet to be confirmed, however it is expected that, from 1st October 2015, landlords will be required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance.
In addition, the TPO and PRS Codes of Conduct require co detectors in properties with a gas appliance. Landlords found not to have installed these devices will face a fine of up to £5,000.
2) Right to rent – the Illegal Immigration Act
A trial of the ‘right to rent’ scheme – in which landlords are required to check the immigration status of their tenants – has recently been completed and is expected to be rolled out across the country by the end of the year.
New powers will allow, in some cases, tenants who do not have the right to live and work in the UK to be evicted from a let property without requiring a court order. Landlords who fail to complete the necessary checks to ensure their tenants are legally able to rent their property could be prosecuted, with potential punishments ranging from four-figure fines to imprisonment for repeat offenders or those involved in organised crime.
3) Serving Notice of Possession: Section 21
Several changes are being made to the Notice of Possession under Section 21. As part of anti-retaliatory eviction measures, landlords will be prevented from serving a valid Section 21 notice for six months if their tenant has recently complained about the state of their property and the local authority has issued a notice of improvement.
There are also a number of other pre-conditions for serving a Section 21 due to be implemented which will prescribe whether and when a valid Section 21 notice can be served to regain possession.
4) Houses in Multiple Occupation licensing (HMOs)
Currently, a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is defined as a property in which three or more people live but do not form one household, i.e. they are not related or in a relationship. This is commonly known as a house share.
However, the government has suggested it will look again at the definition of an HMO so more properties fall within this designation. In addition, many local authorities have adopted ‘selective’ licensing, requiring licensing of all HMOs and sometimes all let property within their jurisdiction.
Landlords need to stay up-to-date with any changes being proposed by the local authority in which their property is located as its status may be subject to a change in the future.
5) Rogue landlord crackdown
There have been clear indications the government is ready to launch new measures designed to penalise rogue landlords who blatantly flout existing legislation, allowing their tenants to live in poor and unsafe conditions.