2020 is set to be a busy year for landlords with the following issues already on the radar:
Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield (B5/2019/0499)
At the end of January 2020 the above case was heard by the Court of Appeal. The issue to be determined is whether a landlord, who has failed to provide a gas safety certificate before the start of the tenancy, can rectify this by providing a copy later? This is important as the provision of a gas safety certificate to the tenant is one of the prescribed requirements which must be complied with before a valid S.21 Notice can be served.
Should the Court decide that the breach cannot be rectified then a landlord in breach will never be able to serve a valid S.21 notice to evict a tenant. An update will be posted once the Judgment has been published.
Fitness for Human HabitationFrom 20th March 2020 The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 will retrospectively imply a term into tenancy agreements that the landlord commits to ensuring that the property is fit for human habitation at the start of the tenancy and during its term. This is in addition to the obligation implied by Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 for the landlord to keep the property in repair.
A landlord will no longer be able to charge less rent for a sub-par property or rely on high demand as justification for letting out properties which are not fit to live in. Should a landlord do so they would be liable to claims for compensation from tenants.
The Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency Standard (“MEES”)
From 1st April 2020 the MEES will apply to all residential properties currently requiring an EPC, this includes assured shorthold tenancies. The result is that if the property has an F or G rating the landlord must improve the property rating to E by 1st April 2020 or register an exemption. Local authorities can issue financial penalties of up to £4,000 for certain breaches.
Tenant Fees Act 2019
A list of what lawful payments a landlord can require from tenants can be found here. From 1st June 2020 these restrictions become retrospective.
This means that landlords will need to check the deposits they hold to ensure that they are holding the equivalent of no more than 5 weeks rent.
If a landlord charges an unlawful fee or holds onto a deposit of more than 5 weeks after 30th May 2020 then the landlord will not be able to evict the tenant until the payment has been refunded. In addition local authorities can police compliance and impose a penalty of up to £5,000 per breach.
Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020
From 1st July 2020 the Regulations will apply to any newly created tenancies (e.g. HMOs and assured shorthold tenancies). From 1st April 2021 it will apply to tenancies created before 1st July 2020.
The consequence of this is that for new tenancies the electrical installations will need to comply with the 2018 edition of the Institute of Engineering and Technology wiring regulations. Additionally a copy of the certificate needs to have been provided to the tenant before the commencement of the tenancy. Local authorities can monitor this and impose a penalty of up to £30,000 per breach.
Pinney Talfourd’s solicitors keep up to date on the latest movements in the property litigation sector. If you have an issue you would like to discuss they are more than happy to meet with you. The team is recommended by Legal 500 UK and our solicitors are able to meet clients out of hours and at any of our locations across Essex and London. Contact the team here.This article was written by Oliver-James Topping, Solicitor in the Residential Property Litigation Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of February 2020.