Autumn Leaves Landlords Extra Work

From the official calendar’s point of view, Autumn started on 21st September. Psychologically though, the 1st of October as we enter the fourth quadrant of the year, really seems like the change of the year. For private landlords, that change brings with it implications for how they run their businesses.


Though there are no changes to tenancy agreements, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have produced a ‘How to Rent’ booklet, which landlords are required to give to tenants as a new tenancy commences. Failure to do so means that a section 21 notice cannot be used to end the tenancy. This is quite a useful booklet and gives some pointers into how a tenant should conduct himself in the tenancy.

A copy of the Energy Performance Certificate and Gas Safe Certificate must be handed to the tenant, as they now become prescribed information. Not only does the landlord have to provide copies of the documents noted, but as the validity of the section 21 notice can be challenged on the basis that these documents have not been provided, the landlord also has to provide evidence that this has been done.

A suggestion is that landlords provide their own ‘check-list’, which they should keep with the other tenancy documents and can then produce, should a tenant challenge the section 21 on the basis of none production of the documents.

For example:

Document Date Received
by Tenant
Tenant’s signature Landlord’s signature
Tenancy Agreement      
‘How to Rent’ booklet      
Inventory (should also be signed separately)      
Copy of Energy Performance Certificate      
Copy of Gas Safe Certificate      
Electrical Safety Certificate (can be self-certified, if a professional check has not been made)      
Legionella Safety check (can be self-certified, if a professional check has not been made      
Instruction manual for boiler      
Prescribed information from Deposit protection scheme      

This should be signed by both landlord and tenant and kept safe by the landlord – it may form part of the eviction proceedings if the tenant challenges the landlord. Careful record keeping should ensure that there are no issues with using the s.21 when it comes time to evict.

New Section 21

There are changes to the section 21 notice. The two documents which could formerly be used, for issuing during the fixed term or when it rolls over into a statutory periodic tenancy are replaced by a single form which can be used for both fixed term or rolling tenancies. There are conditions attached to its’ issue, however.

The section 21 cannot be issued shortly after the commencement of the tenancy; the tenancy must run a minimum of four months before it is issued.

The landlord must commence possession proceedings within 6 months of the notice being issued, otherwise the procedure must start again.

The new version can be downloaded from our website here.

Alarms

A final reminder – smoke alarms are now needed on every habitable floor in a rented property. Carbon monoxide alarms are now needed in any room where there is a solid fuel burning appliance. So if your property has open fires or the capacity for having one, provide a carbon dioxide alarm.

 

More bureaucracy for the over-worked landlord, but getting the paperwork right and keeping your check-list up to date will help and when it becomes a habit, you will not feel the additional workload – until the next lot of changes come in as they inevitably will.

Now that’s sorted you can get back to the simple matters of leaves clogging up the gutters, damp and condensation, boiler and central heating failures, roof problems, flooding, and all the other issues that the wonderful autumn season can bring for landlords.

For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon

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