Immediate changes to lettings law: asking tenants to leave and handling maintenance issues

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A new month and a new set of rules for landlords of private lets to abide by. You may have read our blog about carbon monoxide and smoke detectors becoming compulsory installations in all new lets but there are other changes to lettings laws to digest.

As of the 1st October, the way a landlord asks a tenant to leave the property they rent has changed. In the industry this is called a Section 21 repossession. Politely, it relates to a landlord giving tenants notice to leave a property.

In the past, a landlord had to give the tenant at least two month’s notice if they wanted their property back, whereas a tenant could walk out of a property on the last day of the tenancy without informing the landlord. To avoid such scenarios, some landlords were in the habit of issuing Section 21 notices at the start of the tenancy, to expire on the last day of the contract.

As of 1st October, all new tenancies will be governed by new Section 21 rules. Landlords agreeing new tenancies will not be able to issue a Section 21 within the first four months of a tenancy. Additionally, a section 21 notice will become invalid if proceedings are not issued within 6 months of service. From October 2018, this new ruling will apply to all tenancies, not just new ones agreed after this date.

The next newly-introduced rule relates to property maintenance. As of 1st October a landlord can only serve a Section 21 notice if all outstanding complaints about the rented property’s state of repair have been resolved.

Lastly, there are new rules pertaining to how a landlord deals with maintenance

issues. The new law states that an ‘adequate response’ should be provided within 14 days of receipt of a complaint about the condition of a property. It is expected that all property maintenance correspondence between tenants, landlords and letting agents should be made in writing, and that the landlord should respond stating what they propose to do and in what timeframe. Response times will now be determined by whether there is a vulnerable tenant in occupation.

Here at Jones Robinson we use an online property maintenance reporting system, which ensures that all tenant maintenance issues are gathered in writing, logged, responded to and dealt with in line with the new lettings laws. There’s even a function for the tenant to specify if they deem themselves as a vulnerable occupant. Importantly, the audit trail the system creates will provide both the landlord and the tenant with a written record of maintenance complaints, official responses and details of any works carried out. This is especially important in light of the new Section 21 law regarding outstanding property maintenance issues and the ability to issue a repossession notice.

If you are a landlord and would like to know more about the new section 21 and property maintenance laws, feel free to contact the Jones Robinson lettings department today.


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