Eviction rules tightened up for buy-to-let landlords
Possible amendments to the Deregulation Bill may have a major impact on eviction rules. Kate Faulkner breaks down what you need know.
Some major changes in the law are on the way for landlords and tenants if the government wins over MPs to vote for several amendments to the Deregulation Bill.
On it’s way through Parliament, the bill tidies up a lot of legal loose ends arising from poorly drafted legislation that has seen judges in the courts interpret original laws in a way the government did not intend. However, the bill also adds a hotchpotch of new rules relating to business, employers, court procedures and even the timing of road works.
The amendments that impact landlords and tenants were hastily tacked on to the bill, as the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) made an about-turn on their original policy .
After two years, ministers have decided to update tenancy deposit protection rules that were thrown into disarray by the Court of Appeal in the Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues case in 2013.
The case involved a technical dispute about whether a deposit taken before tenancy deposit protection rules came into force was covered by the law change.
What took the private rental sector by surprise was the decision that landlords had to treat the change between a fixed and periodic tenancy as a new tenancy and should serve all the deposit protection paperwork on the tenant again.
Now, one of the amendments to the Deregulation Bill clears up the mess by making clear that deposits for tenancies that began prior to April 6 2007 that are now periodic must be protected within 90 days of the start date of the new act.
This is expected around the end of March 2015, so landlords should be ready to protect deposits and serve the proscribed documents sometime around the end of June.
For tenants whose tenancy agreements started before April 2007 but have now ended, another clause stops them from claiming compensation from landlords who didn’t protect these tenancies.
Statutory notice to quit
Private tenants win a minimum two-month statutory notice from landlords before they have to leave their homes.
The DCLG says this measure is to stop landlords serving an eviction notice at the start of a tenancy that puts a tenant at risk of having to move home at short notice.
Retaliatory eviction ban
A new law will stop private landlords evicting tenants who have complained to their local authority about poor living conditions.
Landlords will be banned from throwing out whistle-blowing tenants, providing the local authority has issued a notice compelling the landlord to carry out repairs or improvements that impact on the health or safety of anyone living in the property.
Private landlords face a ban on evicting a tenant from a home which doesn’t have valid safety certificates in force – the DCLG has explained this is likely to cover gas safety and energy performance certificates (EPCs).
Although private landlords face some delays in evicting tenants living in defective homes, the government also recognises they should have an easier time evicting some tenants from decent homes who don’t pay rent or behave badly.
In these cases, two months’ notice is still required, but the court process is eased by changing the paperwork that goes before a judge to eliminate delays because of minor errors in documents.
Specifically, the landlord doesn’t have to give a date for the end of the tenancy.