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New laws in the lettings market

By Andrew Ellinas LL.B.Thursday, 29 October 2015

New laws in the lettings market

New lettings laws now and in the immediate future reshape the private rental market

If you’re looking at flats to rent in London there are several new lettings laws that will have a bearing on your tenancy. The new rules introduced by the Government in October 2015 are designed to make the private rental sector fairer and safer for tenants.

Gas and fire safety - the first set of new legislation pertains to the detection of smoke and carbon monoxide. As of 1st October 2015, landlords have to install a smoke alarm per storey in a let property, if there is any form of living accommodation present. This includes mezzanine levels as well as full floors. Andrew Ellinas, the Managing Director at London letting agents Sandfords, comments: “The onus is on the landlord to ensure every alarm fitted works on the day the new tenancy starts. The test must be recorded by the landlord or the London lettings agent carrying out the test, and such tests must be repeated every time a new tenancies starts or renews.”

The new safety laws also extend to carbon monoxide detectors. These must be placed in any room that has a solid fuel combustion appliance. Like the fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors must be installed for new tenancies from now on, or when existing tenancies renew. The detectors should also be tested and recorded as working at the start of a new tenancy or when a tenancy renews.

Repossessions - a second set of new lettings rules came into effect on 1st October 2015, relating to how a landlord regains his property. Landlords agreeing new tenancies can now only issue a Section 21 re-possession notice once four months of the tenancy term has passed. The Section 21 notice will also become invalid if no action is taken after six months of the notice being issued. As a tenant, a successful Section 21 notice can only be served on you if all outstanding property maintenance issues have been satisfactorily resolved.

Property maintenance reporting - maintenance in a let property is also at the heart of a third set of news laws. Maintenance issues must be responded to in an ‘adequate’ fashion within 14 days of receipt. Ellinas confirms: “All property maintenance correspondence between tenants, landlords and letting agents must now be made in writing, and the landlord should respond stating what they propose to do and in what time frame. Response times will now be determined by whether there is a vulnerable tenant in occupation.”

Right to rent check - Lastly, and a new law for the future, is Right to Rent. As a tenant you will be required by law to provide a letting agent or landlord with paperwork confirming your right to live in the UK. This law comes into effect from 1st February 2016. “Those not submitting valid paperwork in person - which can include a UK or European Economic Area passport, a permanent residence or European identity card, Home Office immigration status documents or a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen - can be refused the right to rent a property,” concludes Ellinas.

As London lettings agents, Sandfords is up-to-speed on all the new lettings laws and how they affect you as a tenant. Please contact us or visit our legislation section if you’d like clarification or if you are a landlord getting to grips with the changes.

 

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