Key PRS Legislation
HOUSING AND PLANNING ACT 2016
The Government states that it will continue to drive up safety and standards in the private rented sector, and drive out the rogue landlords, whom they define as ‘a landlord who knowingly flouts their obligations by renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation to tenants’. As a result, the Housing and Planning Act 2016 has given councils new powers to deal with them.
This Act includes:
- Allowing local authorities to apply for a banning order to prevent a particular landlord/letting agent from continuing to operate where they have committed certain housing offences and so removing them from the sector;
- Creating a national database of rogue landlords/letting agents, which will be maintained by local authorities;
- Allowing tenants or local authorities to apply for a rent repayment order where a landlord has committed certain offences (for example continuing to operate while subject to a banning order or ignoring an improvement notice). If successful the tenant (or the authority if the tenant was receiving universal credit) may be repaid up to a maximum of 12 months’ rent.
- Enable local councils to issue fines as well as prosecute.
Government are also working with industry experts to consider whether action should be taken to mandate
electrical safety checks for rented properties and client money protection for letting agents as part of their ongoing efforts to raise standards. They are also looking at the predominant use of 6 and 12 month contracts which can mean that families who are renting need to move home before they had necessarily planned to, which can mean children moving school and the uncertainty and costs associated with taking on a new rental property. They are therefore proposing to make the private rented sector more family-friendly by taking steps to promote
longer tenancies on new build rental homes.
SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM (ENGLAND) REGULATIONS 2015
On 1st Oct 2015 the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force. From that date, private rented sector landlords are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every floor of their properties on which there is a room. This is regardless of whether it is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and this includes a bathroom or toilet.
ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, CRIME & POLICING ACT 2014 (Recovery of Possession of Dwelling Houses)
This part of the Act gives landlords the absolute ground for possession of secure tenancies in specific cases of anti-social behaviour. Most council tenants are secure tenants and a secure tenancy is a lifetime tenancy and tenant can only be evicted in certain situations.
A council tenant is not a secure tenant if they are:
- A new tenant and have an introductory tenancy;
- In temporary accommodation following a homeless application;
- Anti social and their tenancy as been demoted.
The following can can only apply as long as the landlord has also complied with its legal obligations
The court must make an order for the recovery of possession of a dwelling-house let under a secure tenancy, when requested by the landlord if any of the following conditions is met for a) a tenant, or b) a person residing in or visiting the dwelling-house:
- Conviction for a serious offence – in the locality of the tenant’s property, or outside of the locality where the offence is against a neighbour or a person connected with a landlord’s housing management functions.
- Breach of an Injunction (in the same circumstances as the serious offence above);
- Breach of a provision of a Criminal Behaviour Order (in the same circumstances as above);
- The dwelling-house has been subject to a closure order and access has been prohibited for a continuous period of more than 48 hours;
- Breaching of a Noise Abatement notice or court order in regard to noise nuisance which emitted from the dwelling-house.
LOCALISM ACT 2011
Under the Localism Act 2011 tenancies created on or after 6th April 2012 will require the landlord to not only return the tenancy deposit to the tenant but pay the tenant one to three times the deposit amount in compensation if the deposit has not been protected. If the landlord does not do this then the tenant can sue for up to 6 years for the deposit and up to three times the deposit value.
HOUSING (TENANCY DEPOSITS) (PRESCRIBED INFORMATION) ORDER 2007
This Act requires the landlord to supply the tenant with prescribed information regarding any tenancy deposit that is required to be dealt with under either a) the custodial or b) the insurance backed tenancy deposit schemes.
Key parts of the Act are:
- The operation of the provisions contained in s212 (tenancy deposit schemes);
- s213 (requirements relating to tenancy deposits) and s214 (proceedings relating to tenancy deposits);
- s215 (sanctions for non-compliance);
- Schedule 10 of the 2004 Act (provisions relating to tenancy deposit schemes).
This must also be accompanied by a copy of the Scheme’s Tenant’s Leaflet and a copy of the Deposit Protection Certificate (which must be signed by the Landlord/Agent) which gives most (but not all) of the prescribed information and which must be signed by the landlord/agent.
HOUSING ACT 2004
Landlords must be able to provide proof that the tenancy deposit has been protected in one of the three government-approved deposit protection schemes (2 insurance-based and 1 custodial-based).
This Act also introduced the Housing Health and Safety Ratings System which is the predominant mechanism for measuring standards with the PRS.
GAS SAFETY (INSTALLATION AND USE) REGULATIONS 1998
For gas safety the legislation is the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 which places a statutory duty on all landlords to ensure that all gas appliances, pipework and flues are maintained in a safe condition, particularly in order to prevent the escape of carbon monoxide gas.
Landlords will be in breach of Regulation 36 of this legislation if their annual gas appliance checks are carried out by someone who is not registered on the GasSafe Register. Unregistered gas fitters are working not only illegally but possibly unsafely.
GENERAL PRODUCT SAFETY REGULATIONS 1994
The General Product Safety Regulations 1994 require landlords to ensure that products supplied in their property are not only safe but that they provide the tenant with instruction manuals and information sheets. These Regulations act as secondary legislation to the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and relate to any business which supplies plugs, sockets, adapters or fuses intended for domestic use, (with a working voltage of not less than 200 volts), correctly fitted with a fused and approved UK three-pin plug (BS 1363) or approved “conversion plug”. The conversion plug is a device which may be used with a conforming socket and which is designed to enable a non-UK plug to be used with it. All this also applies to any appliances with a plug fitted that may be supplied.
ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT (Safety) REGULATIONS 1994
Under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, any electrical equipment and products which are supplied to the tenant in a rented property have to be safe. Whilst the Regulations are not retrospective, any relevant electrical equipment included in a new tenancy after the commencement dates of these Regulations constitutes a new ‘supply’ and therefore needs to be compliant.
TORTS INTERFERENCE WITH GOODS ACT 1977
The Torts (Interference With Goods) Act 1977) sets out how to avoid repercussions when any goods are left behind by a tenant so that the property can be re-let as soon as possible. These goods still belong to that tenant, regardless of whether a possession order is obtained by the landlord or the tenant surrenders the tenancy.
RENT ACT 1977
Most tenancies created before 1989 were regulated by the first of two statutory codes, the first being that set up by the Rent Act 1977. This Act consolidated all the Rent Acts that had been passed since the first (temporary) Rent Act passed in 1915. Such tenancies are known as protected tenancies and they changed the underlying common law in three main ways:
- By introducing rent regulation, which meant the landlord had to not only charge a fair rent but couldn’t increase it unless it was in accordance with complex statutory legislation;
- By introducing long-term security of tenure;
- By introducing ‘rules of succession’ which denoted what happened to the tenancy after the death of the tenant.
Protected tenancies begin as contractual tenancies agreed between the landlord and the tenant and like common law tenancies, a Notice to Quit can be served after the fixed term has expired. At that point though, the Act takes effect and a new statutory tenancy replaces the contractual one.