Important changes are imminent for private rented sector

We are indebted to lawyer Tessa Shepperson for her round-up of all the legal changes imminently coming the way of the lettings industry in England.

This first appeared in her Landlord Law newsletter.

For any agent who wishes a more in-depth briefing, there will be a legal update in Ely on October 1 by barrister Sam Madge-Wyld. For more information, go here

  1. Changes to section 21

There are big changes coming to section 21:

Anti-retaliatory eviction measures. These will restrict landlords’ ability to serve a valid section 21 notice if the tenants have complained about the condition of the property AND if the Local Authority have served an improvement or similar notice on the landlord.

This measure should not affect landlords who respond promptly to tenants and who keep properties in good condition. Local Authority EHOs  are mostly overworked and do not have enough staff to deal properly with their case load so are not going to want to waste resources on anything other than clear cases of bad practice.

A new section 21 notice. I have seen a draft of this, but no doubt it will be amended before the final version is released. This is really good news for landlords as most of the problems in the past with s21 evictions have been about the correct drafting of the notice.

More preconditions for serving a s21 notice. At the moment these are compliance with the tenancy deposit rules and having a licence for a licensable HMO. Here are the new ones coming:

  • Installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Serving on the tenant a gas safety certificate,
  • An energy performance certificate, and
  • A copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide

Time limits – you will not be able to serve a s21 notice during the first four months of a tenancy and will not be able to issue proceedings based on a notice more than six months after it was served.

The new s21 measures are due to come into force on October 1, but the pre-conditions and time limits will only (until 2018) apply to new tenancies created after that date.

  1. New Health and Safety measures

These are the requirements to fit smoke and carbon monoxide alarms referred to above.

Note that local fire and rescue services have been provided with free alarms to hand out to landlords so if you want this, have a word with your local service.

  1. Right to Rent

The right to rent checks which came in with the Immigration Act 2014 have been trialled in the West Midlands over the past 6 months.

However, these are almost certainly due to be rolled out nationwide as fast as the Government can manage it. New measures are also being planned for a new Immigration Act which will involve harsher penalties for landlords who fail to carry out the checks, including imprisonment, and also the power to evict tenants without getting a court order first.

  1. HMO Licensing

The Government has indicated that it is going to revisit mandatory licensing and widen the definition so more properties will come within it.

So if you manage a property which is an HMO but not a licensable one, this may change in the not too distant future.

  1. Penalties for Rogue Landlords

The Government has indicated that it is determined to crack down on rogue landlords by introducing new penalties.


That’s a lot of change coming up! So you need to make sure you keep yourself informed.


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  1. Will

    MORE RED TAPE!!! I have not previously heard of the proposals to make it  a statutory requirement to provide tenants with a copy of its “How to Rent Guide” or you will not be able to serve a S21 Notice. Have you? and I thought I kept pretty well up to date on legislation!


    No doubt more traps being set to catch out the landlords

    1. Jones Associates

      That’s a new one on me.  The legislation for the sake of it is now becoming overwhelming.

  2. Will

    It strikes me the constant flow of legislation illustrates how Government don’t think out matters properly to start with.  Its a  bit like your favorite software company issuing patches and updates every week to keep the hackers out!

  3. Keith Edwards

    ….. ‘you will not be able to serve a s21 notice during the first four months of a tenancy’

    HOLD UP!

    given that you are required to give at least 2 months notice (and add a couple of days for posting), this means that you cannot issue an s21 until you are into the fifth month of a six month tenancy, effectively turning it into a seven month tenancy doesn’t it?

    1. Ding Dong

      Nope, just 6 months and a couple of days

  4. Will

    Meant to say this is a really useful and helpful article to those of us who are landlords or deal with lettings WELL DONE!!!

  5. Wilson

    New precondition – ‘A copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide’, hope they upgrade this before the new preconditions come into force as it is wrong (last updated May 2015) – NO SURPRISE THERE THEN!!:

  6. jad

    Just as a start – New precondition – ‘A copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide’………  doesn’t anyone in overnment supervise the the back room staff who are pumping out this badly thrown together rubbish ?  Page 6 for a start, in little over a month it will be compulsory for Landlords to fit Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms and here we are being advised by a Government department to ‘Go and buy your own if they aren’t there’  –  For pity’s sake, don’t publicise bad practice with bad advice – if a Landlord is out of step, advise him/her and if ignored prosecute.  At the same time make the lazy wasters in Local Government do there job properly, they get paid enough from the public purse – It is wise to give good advice, both to Landlord and Tenants but before making it compulsory to serve Government forms & Booklets make sure they are ABSOLUTELY ACCURATE and freely available…….   or am I stupid for hoping for such a thing ??

  7. Tessa Shepperson

    About the ‘How to rent guide’ – this is not definite.  However, the legislation talks about landlords having to provide ‘prescribed information’ to tenants and it looks as if this will turn out to be the How to Rent Guide.

    However, I agree with comments saying that it could do with some improvement.  I did a review of it last June here

    1. Will

      Tessa, thanks you for this.  The prescribed information to which you refer would be in addition to the prescribed information landlords already have to supply when dealing with the Governments deposit schemes?  Thank you for a well written and informative article. As a small landlord I find the ever increasing hurdles government put before landlords and letting professionals unhelpful and is driving up costs (which ultimately tenants pay for) and it will reduce supply which will further drive up rents. Cap rents and  reduction in supply will follow (as will be seen once Scotland has done its worse). This will put even more pressure on  Local Authorities. Local councils see licensing as a money raising opportunity.  It all seems to be heading towards a self destruct route to me. What with being border control agents as well now and punitive threats if you get it wrong. This all to deal with Government failings and a few bad landlords that the majority would would like to see prosecuted and outed. This is like giving the whole school detention because of one naughty boy!

      1. Tessa Shepperson

        It will be in addition to the deposit prescribed information (which is only needed if you take a deposit for an AST).

        I agree that it is confusing calling it by the same name!

        1. Will

          Thanks for the clarification – much appreciated.

  8. jad

    Having been a small time caring landlord for the past 17 years I have managed my own Tenancies, always tried 150% to operate within the framework of many badly conceived and written pieces of legislation and tolerated time after time damage and dirt left by tenants, disputes in the County Court whereby the Judge (for want of a better description) decides not to follow the correct path of legislation but feels pity for the Tenant and increases often the losses already suffered by the Landlord by introducing rights to the defendant that should never be considered in law. so my options………  the first is to reduce my portfolio of well managed, well decorated and maintain properties from the original 5 down to 2, and if Landlord licensing hits my area it will be 0.  With the current licensing fees showing at around £750 on average, how over a 5 year period could I reasonably pass that on to good tenants ?  or for that matter, swallow it myself ?

    For everyones sake, Central Government ‘Get A Grip’, think about what you are doing before you do it, plan it, and consider the consequences.  OK, I am just a nobody in the sea of property magnets, but believe me there are a lot of ‘Nobodys’ like me who want a level playing field in all aspects of property rental, and that includes Taxation  and the right to offset property income against other incomes instead of having to ‘Roll Over’ losses all the time.  Be Fair OSBORNE, we can’t all have 2 houses and flip them whenever it suits !!  Just remember in this Crusade against  Landlords that in recent surveys over 80% of Tenants expressed contentment with their Landlords / Letting Agents ………… so be advised, use your existing powers, make those who should enforce them do their job and stop dishing out poorly thought out advice.

    1. Will

      Jad, like you I am a nobody with a similar hard earnt portfolio.  I have over the years had excellent tenants in the main but have had my share of ROGUE TENANTS (due to the adoption of the media and politicians and local councils using the emotive term rogue landlord so I now insist on calling them rogues).  I had one tenant who used to increase her own rent showing appreciation for the service she received.  So we have ROGUE COUNCILS LIKE CROYDON ripping off landlords where parts of their borough are affluent so whole borough licensing is not justified. The Courts seem no better at times.  None of us want the  cowboys and rip off merchants to succeed and WE ALL PAY for the costs. I have calculated from published information that the cost of one prosecution is Newham equated to £29,000 of license fees in the borough.  Croydon will make, it seems, circa £27 million of income from licenses. If loans were charged at the rate that a mainstream highly advertised payday lender charges they would be known as loan sharks – but pay for a license (or may be call it is something else) and its legal to charge in excess of 1,000 %; are they rogues? seems not they pay for a license!. Let insurance companies rip off pensioners with returns on investments below the base rate, condoned by Government, are they rogues seems not  due to government influence. Let us Nobodies pay for bankers bonuses with Cameron selling off OUR shares below market value, more rogues if ever there were any!. May be you can understand why the cowboys make hay whilst the sun shines? I personally can’t do that, I have a moral code nor do I condone it. I will put on my borders control uniform when it affects me and be (the new buss word) innovative – I have no choice.


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