Landlord and tenant legislation is ever changing making it essential for Managing Trustees who let out residential property to keep an eye on what is happening and know what action they need to take to ensure they are fulfilling the statutory responsibilities placed on them as a landlord. This article summarises some important recent changes that Managing Trustees need to be aware of.
1. New government guidance
New government guidance is now available summarising the rights and responsibilities of landlords (and tenants) in the private rented sector; “Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities in the Private Rented Sector”.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government launched this new guidance note on 9 April 2019 which will provide a helpful reference tool for Managing Trustees:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/landlord-and-tenant-rights-and-responsibilities-in-the-private-rented-sector (HCLG Responsibilities Guidance).
Managing Trustees are encouraged to read the HCLG Responsibilities Guidance (especially the second section focusing on landlords from page 14) for a summary of the statutory obligations placed on them as landlord and steps to be taken before and during a tenancy. This guidance provides a valuable and reliable reference point particularly in the midst of the current media interest in landlord and tenant matters.
2. Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards Regulations (the MEES Regulations)
In April 2019 the “no cost to the landlord” exemption was withdrawn and a minimum landlord contribution up to £3,500 per property introduced. The effect of the 1 April 2019 change is that where the MEES Regulations apply, Managing Trustees seeking to let out properties rated below “E” (as set out in the Energy Performance Certificate) will now be expected to spend up to £3,500 (including VAT) per property on energy efficiency improvements unless one of the other exemptions apply.
This also means that any “no cost to the landlord” exemption registered by Managing Trustees since the MEES Regulations came into force on 1 April 2018 will now end on 31 March 2020, instead of the exemption extending for five years as previously.
TMCP is in the process of publishing a new Focus Note on the MEES Regulations which will be available shortly explaining how the MEES Regulations apply to Managing Trustees specifically. Managing Trustees are also encouraged to read to the recently reissued Domestic Private Rented Property Minimum Standard Guidance produced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
3. Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs)
Significant changes have been made to the rules relating to the licensing of “houses in multiple occupancy” (HMOs) with effect from 1 October 2018 to impose additional obligations for all HMO landlords and require an increasing proportion of HMO landlords (including Managing Trustees), to apply for a HMO licence.
Refer to Section C of the Residential Tenancy (Legislation Update) Focus Note for more information.
4. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 (the 2018 Act)
All new tenancies (with a term of less than 7 years) or tenancies which were allowed to run after the end of the fixed term on or after 20 March 2019 are subject to a new implied term that the property must be “fit for human habitation”, and that it will remain fit throughout the term of the tenancy.
Refer to Section D of the Residential Tenancy (Legislation Update) Focus Note for more information.
5. Ban on Tenant Fees – Assured Shorthold Tenancies
Payments from residential tenants to Managing Trustees or their letting agents will be prohibited from 1 June 2019 unless they are specified as a 'permitted payment' under the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
Refer to Section E of the Residential Tenancy (Legislation Update) Focus Note for more information.
6. A ban on “no fault” evictions
There has been a great deal of publicity lately on the Government’s announcement of its consultation on plans to abolish “no fault” eviction. Managing Trustees should not be immediately alarmed as at this stage the Government is only consulting on the proposal and the law has not been changed. However, the Church will need to keep this under review to help it decide at a strategic level when Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) continue to be appropriate.
Refer to Section F of the Residential Tenancy (Legislation Update) Focus Note for more information.
If you have any queries in relation to the guidance in this document please contact TMCP Legal for further assistance.