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New warning to letting agents over legal changes

Letting agents have received another warning from legal experts to familiarise themselves with new legislation introduced just before MPs broke up for the general election.

Midlands legal practice Buckles says the Deregulation Act 2015 is designed to cut red tape but represents major changes which agents, along with landlords and tenants, must respect. 

“We would urge letting agents to familiarise themselves with the changes now many of which centre around the repair management process for rental properties with stringent penalties for non-compliance” says the firm’s senior solicitor, Kerry Thompson.

She says the measures fall into three categories.

1. Retaliatory eviction measures: From October 2015 the Act will prevent a landlord from serving a section 21 notice within six months of an improvement or remedial notice being served by a Local Authority and/or relying on a section 21 notice served after a tenant makes a legitimate request – made in writing - for repair works.

“For the first three years, the retaliatory eviction provisions will only apply for new assured shorthold tenancies granted after the enactment of the changes. Tenancies granted by housing associations are not affected by the legislation” she says.

2. Changes to section 21

From 1 July 2015 the Secretary of State may make regulations setting out a prescribed form for section 21 notices to help landlords by confirming what information is required in the notes and guidance section of the notice.

From 1 October 2015, landlords of periodic assured shorthold tenancies will no longer need to end the tenancy at the end of a period of tenancy, but can simply give two months’ written notice to quit. 

A new section will be inserted, also to come into force on 1 October 2015, which will provide a formula for calculating rent payment where a tenant is a head with the rent on expiry section 21.

3. Tenancy deposit changes

The Act moves the goalposts for the tenancy deposit legislation yet again by introducing a requirement to protect deposits taken before 6 April 2007. Where statutory tenancy started after 6 April 2007, the deposit must be protected before 23 June 2015 or before the Court decides on proceedings under section 21 or failure to protect deposit provisions apply.

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