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Buy to Let: Beware of new changes to residential tenancies

A solicitor is warning landlords of important changes to the law which have altered the way tenancy agreements can be ended.

The law has affected the most common form of tenancy agreements in the UK, known as Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements (AST), meaning landlords must comply with the rules when entering into such an agreement with tenants.

Crucially, when entering into an AST, landlords must now provide certain information to a tenant, including a government factsheet on renting, a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and a gas safety certificate. There is also a new rule to fit carbon monoxide detectors in properties.

Helen Clutterbuck, solicitor in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution team at Napthens solicitors, warned the biggest change for landlords will be the way a so-called Section 21 notice can be used.

Such notices are used by landlords to recover possession of a property that has been let under an AST, and the new regulations have imposed restrictions on the way landlords can now use them.

Landlords must comply with ‘prescribed requirements’ or will not be able to gain possession of a property. For example, if tenants complains about damp or another issue with the property, the problem must be dealt with properly.

Helen Clutterbuck said: “The new rules affect tenancies which began on or after October 1, and include rules which specify exactly when during a tenancy a Section 21 notice can be served.

“It’s important for landlords to be aware of all the changes which are now in force, as without complying with the letter of the law, the Section 21 notice will be invalid and it may be very difficult for them to end a tenancy.

“While possession proceedings are usually a last resort for landlords, unfortunately there are some circumstances where they are necessary. Courts take very strict views when considering possession proceedings, and it is vital to ensure all the correct steps are taken.”