With regulations and laws relating to the PRS in a state of near constant flux; changes can be easy to miss. And with the emphasis in recent times having primarily been placed largely on emergency measures; there are now of course also some longer-term changes to watch out for, as government plans to transform the industry begin to take shape. Here are some of the key legislation changes you’ll need to be aware of in 2021…


Electrical Safety Standards 2021

Since April 1st, 2021, every property needs to have an electrical safety compliance certificate to prove that all electrical instillations in properties have been inspected and tested by a professional.

This applies to all new tenancies from June 2020 and all existing tenancies from April 2012; and these tests will need to be carried out every 5 years.

Any landlords still holding off from acting on this are in breach of regulations and could be facing financial penalties of up to £30,000, Get the official government guidance here.

Notice Periods: Section 21

As things stand now; the notice period (if the tenant was given notice on or after June 1st) must be at least 4 months.

But with updates on the Renters Reform Bill just around the corner; there is proposed legislation to reform the PRS, including the possible abolishment of section 21, potentially with the replacement of a more active section 8.

Breathing space moratorium

The new debt moratorium scheme came into force on 4 May 2021, giving those in debt some legal protection from creditors by providing a “breathing space” for them to resolve their money issues.

In cases where a breathing space is in place; landlords can continue section 21 proceedings against a tenant even where the tenant is in rent arrears However, a landlord would not be able to claim any outstanding rent as part of a section 21 claim.

This legislation has implications for agencies also, who could be blocked from charging late fees or taking action on missing rents. If you are an agent; then you can find out more about what actions you need to take here.

Evictions

Evictions have been allowed to proceed since May 31st. However, it’s important you are aware that the government are very keen on disputes being resolved outside of court. This is likely to mean more mediation and less court hearings whilst the pandemic continues.

Right to Rent checks

It is now a legal requirement that potential tenants are met face-to-face whilst documents are checked. Prospective tenants will need to be able to prove that they have the right to rent in the UK, as we are no longer part of the EU. Tenancies cannot be granted to any those who are not able prove that they have the right to be here. The Government has issued a code of practice on how Right to Rent checks must be carried out; which you can access here.

Model tenancy agreement and pets in rental properties

The government’s model tenancy agreement was amended in January to include pets as a default; with the intention of dissuading landlords from placing a blanket ban on pets. This is not (at least at present) a legal requirement. Moving forwards however (especially with remote working likely to remain in place); renters will likely prioritise contracts that afford them this possibility. So, whether you are an agent or a landlord; this is worth bearing in mind. Find out more about the Dogs and Domestic Animals Bill here.

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