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Seven important law changes landlords need to know about

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker
From the upcoming introduction of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards to the extension of mandatory HMO licensing later this year, 2018 is a bumper year for changes to the law.

Housing lawyer and RLA Policy Director David Smith, property market analyst Kate Faulkner and other housing experts will outline upcoming legislation changes and take your questions at our Future Renting North conference next month.

So, what legislation changes do you need to know about? Read on to find out.

 1. Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)

As the 1st April deadline quickly approaches, it is no surprise that our Landlord Advice Team is taking calls from members relating to energy efficiency,

Any properties that are rented out in the private rented sector will need a minimum energy performance rating of E on an EPC certificate, as of 1st April. These new rules cover all new lets and renewals and will be extended to all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020. Read this useful guide on Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards here.

  1. HMO room size regulations

Research from RLA PEARL has found that 16% of landlords rent to people in HMOs, so this law change, set to be introduced in October, will impact a huge number of landlords.

As of October this year, a national minimum bedroom size will be introduced for all licensed HMOs, and councils will be required to stipulate how many people can sleep in each room.

Councils will be able to apply national minimum standards or set even tougher local requirements. You can read about the specific changes here 

  1. GDPR

General Data Protection Regulations are due to come in this May, replacing the Data Protection Act. The changes that are due to come in and what in practice they mean for landlords were recently covered in our Call of the Week.

  1. Extension of mandatory HMO licensing

The Government has confirmed that the extension of mandatory HMO licensing is due to come into force from 1st October 2018.

The regulations bring purpose-built flats (where there are up to two flats in the block) into the scope of mandatory licensing. They also remove the three storey rule – at present mandatory licensing applies to HMOs of at least three storeys and five occupants comprising of two or more family units – bringing almost 200,000 additional properties under mandatory licensing rules.

  1. Banning Orders

While the majority of landlords are excellent and law abiding, it is a sad reality that some are criminal landlords who give decent landlords a bad name.

The new banning orders that will be introduced on 6th April hope to tackle these criminal landlords and agents. Introduced under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, these banning orders mean that an individual who has been convicted of specified offences can be barred from renting out properties for a minimum of one year.

The RLA published its submission to the consultation held by the Government on Banning Orders, which can be read here.

6. Extension of Section 21

Another legislative change which landlords should be aware of in October is the extension of Section 21. The implementation of the Deregulation Act saw several changes that were made to Section 21 tenancies, which applied to all tenancies or renewals that started on or after October 1st 2015.

However, the changes will now impact all tenancies, including those that were established BEFORE 1st October 2015.

In practice, this means that all landlords will legally be required to supply their tenants with the ‘prescribed documents’ before the start of the tenancy.

These are: tenancy deposit information, a copy of the property’s EPC certificate, valid gas safety certificate and a copy of the Government’s latest ‘How to Rent’ guide.

  1. Gas Safety

Landlords are set to have greater flexibility around dates when it comes to the rules surrounding annual gas safety checks.

Similar to rules surrounding car MOTs, landlords will be able to make compulsory checks any time in the two months leading up to the renewal date, while still retaining the existing date for the following year.

In practice this means that, were your check due on May 31 for example, the check could be carried out any time in April or May, and you would still retain the May 31 renewal date for the following year. Read more

View the schedule of the day at Future Renting North and book your ticket here. 

Find out more

Watch:  Interview with David Smith at the RLA’s Future Renting Wales conference,  last year.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

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