Remaining on the right side of the law as a landlord in 2021 has never been more time consuming or complex. The abundance of legislative changes the pandemic has seen the Private Rental Sector fall victim to due to COVID alone, has resulted in landlords being placed under immense pressure; leaving many faced with serious cash-flow problems and an uncertain future.
Here are some of the key pieces of landlord legislation you’ll need to be aware of moving forwards in 2021, as we begin to step tentatively into recovery mode…
Electrical Safety Standards 2021
Since April 1st, 2021, every property needs to have an electrical safety compliance certificate to prove that all electrical installations in their properties have been inspected and tested by a professional.
This applies to all new tenancies from June 2020 and all existing tenancies from April 2012; and these tests will need to be carried out every 5 years.
If you have a managing agent who is dealing with this on your behalf; then you obviously have nothing to worry about. However, if you are still holding off from acting on this; then not only are you are in breach of regulations and breaking the law; you could also be facing a financial penalty of up to £30,000, Get the official government guidance on how to remain fully compliant here.
Notice Periods: Section 21
Confusion surrounding required notice periods has been prevalent among landlords in recent times, which is hardly surprising, given the number of changes put into place with the onset of COVID. As things stand now; the notice period (if you gave your tenant notice on or after June 1st) must be at least 4 months.
But with updates on the Renters Reform Bill just around the corner; there is proposed legislation to reform the PRS, including the possible abolishment of section 21, potentially with the replacement of a more active section 8.
Breathing space moratorium
The new Debt Respite Scheme which came into force May 4th, 2021, allows an authorised FCA debt advisor to put in to place what is known as a ‘breathing space moratorium’, providing tenants suffering from financial hardship with legal protection from creditors (the landlord in most cases).
The most important thing to bear in mind, is that once you have been informed that any debts owed to you fall within the bracket of ‘a breathing space’; It is required that you stop all action until the breathing space ends.
Breathing spaces fall in to two categories: ‘standard’, and ‘mental health’. Find out more about those distinctions here, and the implications they are likely to have on have on your responsibilities as a landlord.
If you are in the unenviable position of needing to evict your tenant; then be aware that even though evictions have been allowed to proceed since May; the government is very keen that disputes are resolved out of court. This could mean mediation, which you will have to prove you have tried. It’s probably best that you don’t expect your court date to give you what you want.
Right to Rent checks
It is now a legal requirement that you meet potential tenants face-to-face whilst documents are checked. Prospective tenants will need to be able to prove that they have the right to rent in the UK, as we are no longer part of the EU. Tenancies cannot be granted to any those who are not able prove that they have the right to be here. The Government has issued a code of practice on how Right to Rent checks must be carried out; which you can access here.
Model tenancy agreement and pets in rental properties
The government’s model tenancy agreement was amended in January to include pets as a default; with the intention of dissuading landlords from placing a blanket ban on pets. This is not (at least at present) the legal agreement. You don’t have to use this tenancy. Moving forwards however (especially with remote working likely to remain in place and the likelihood of well-meaning tenants wanting or benefitting emotionally from the presence of a furry companion); prospective renters will likely prioritise contracts that afford this possibility.
Here to help you make the right choices
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