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Landlords, are you ready for the changes coming in April?

Updated: Nov 11, 2018

Landlords, April 2018 is bring some changes to the private rental sector, firstly are you aware of them secondly are you prepared?


First on the list is Banning orders - this could see landlords banned from letting or managing a property indefinitely. A database will be released by the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) listing criminal landlords and letting agents. A central database will be held by DCLG and local authorities will update it. 


The DCLG has now released details of the serious offences that will merit a banning order.


Housing offences

• Illegally evicting or harassing a residential occupier in contravention of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977

• Using violence to secure entry under the Criminal Law Act 1977

Any of the following offences under the Housing Act 2004:

• Failure to comply with an Improvement Notice (section 30);

• Failure to comply with a prohibition order (section 32)

• Offences in relation to licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) (section 72);

• Offences in relation to licensing of houses under Part 3 of the Act (section 95);

• Contravention of an overcrowding notice (Section 139)

• Failure to comply with management regulations in respect of HMOs (section 234).

• Providing false or misleading information (section 238)

Also

• An offence under section 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998;

• An offence under section 32 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005


Immigration offences

Letting to someone disqualified from renting because of their immigration status, whether as a landlord or agent.


Serious criminal offences

Any offence listed in any of items 7 to 14 of the Schedule if:

1 (the offence was committed against or in collusion with a tenant occupying any housing (or another person occupying that housing with the tenant) or the offence was committed at or in relation to that housing;

2 (at the time the offence was committed, the offender was the residential landlord or property agent of that housing or an officer of a body corporate who was the residential landlord or property agent of that housing; and

3 the offender was sentenced for the offence in the Crown Court.


The offences listed in the schedule include:

• a range of fraud offences under the Fraud Act 2006

• any specified violent and sexual offence under Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003

• Offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act

• Concealing criminal property and related offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

• Harassment and stalking under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997

• Offences under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

• Offences of criminal damage under the Criminal Damage Act 1971

• Theft, burglary, blackmail and handing stolen goods under the Theft Act 1968


For further details please click here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2017/9780111162224/regulation/3


The government has introduced penalties of up to £3,000 and extended rent repayments orders in a bid to tackle criminal landlords.



Second is a new regulation for gas safety checks. From 6th April 2018 a new regulation will be introduced that amends the gas safety regulation 1998 stating a gas safety check can be carried out up to two months before the expiry of the current gas safety record whilst retaining the existing expiry date. This will help to minimise those last minute calls or struggling with access. This regulation doesn’t take away the important of the need to have an annual gas safety check done. 


The Final change to make you aware of is with Energy Performance Certificates (EPC). From April 2018 landlords must ensure their property reaches at least an EPC rating of an E before granting a tenancy to new or existing tenants. These requirements will then apply to all private rented properties from 1st April 2020 even if there has been no change in tenancy arrangements. 


Exemptions

There are only a few exemptions to the regulations that landlords can use. Landlords seeking to make use of one of the following exemptions must ensure it is registered on the PRS Exemptions Register, operated by the Government, which opened on 1st October 2017:

• They have undertaken all “relevant energy efficiency improvements” but the property remains below an E, or no such improvements can be made to the property. A “relevant energy efficiency improvement” is one which:

• Is listed in the Green Deal (Qualifying Energy Improvements) Order 2012 and has been identified as a recommended improvement for that property in a green deal report, a recommendation report, or a report prepared by a surveyor, and

• Can be wholly financed, at no cost to the landlord, by means of funding provided by central government, a local authority, or any other person.

• The landlord requires consent from the tenant/s, and the occupying tenant/s withhold that consent.

• The landlord has only recently become the landlord for the property

• Third party consent is required for the requested improvements but this consent cannot be obtained (e.g. planning permission or consent from mortgage lender).

• Measures required to improve the property are evidenced by a suitably qualified independent surveyor as expected to cause a capital devaluation of the property of more than 5%. Only those measures that are expected to cause such devaluation would be exempt from installation.

• The landlord has obtained a written opinion, from a suitably qualified person or from the independent installer engaged to install the measure, advising that it is not an appropriate improvement due to its potential negative impact on the fabric or structure of the property (or the building of which it is part). This exemption is only in relation to wall insulation.

Each exemption, once registered on the PRS Register, is valid for 5 years except for two:

• Where a landlord has recently become the landlord of the property that exemption is only valid for 6 months.

• Where a tenant has withheld consent for energy efficiency improvements that exemption is only valid until that tenant’s tenancy ends (or after 5 years, whichever is sooner).


Exemptions may not pass over to a new owner or landlord of a property upon sale. If a let property is sold or otherwise transferred, the exemption will cease to be effective and the new owner will need to either improve the property to the minimum standard at that point, or register an exemption where one applies.


Please note the information above is a general overview and do recommend you carry out independent research or speak to a professional.


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