2020 – changes to residential legislation and how it might affect you
Are you a residential landlord?
New legislation is coming into effect in 2020 which needs action.
January 2020 – Septic Tanks – The General Binding Rules
The General Binding Rules apply to septic tanks and regulate the discharge of waste to ground or surface water to prevent contamination and improve water quality. Where a septic tank falls short of the GBR requirements it will need replacing or upgrading. Failure to comply could result in financial penalties from the Environment Agency, who enforce the rules.
The Environment Agency originally had a deadline of 1st January 2020 for compliance, but in October 2019 this deadline was removed, and the guidance now states “you must have plans in place to carry out this work within a reasonable timescale, typically 12 months.”
Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/general-binding-rules-small-sewage-discharge-to-the-ground
March 2020 – Extension of Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act
On 20th March 2019 the Fitness for Human Habitation Act was introduced in England as an amendment to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. It states a Landlord must maintain the property in a state fit for human habitation throughout the duration of a tenancy, or they could be taken to court by the tenant.
Where a tenancy began on or after 20th March 2019 a tenant can use the Act straight away, and from 20th March 2020 the Act will cover all tenancies.
April 2020 – Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)
From 1st April 2020 any residential property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of less than an E (i.e. an F or G) cannot legally be let.
All new residential tenancies since April 2018 (including renewals) have had to achieve a minimum EPC rating of an E. From April 2020 this legislation will cover all residential rental properties including those with existing tenancies. Certain exemptions can be applied for, but these are not automatic and need to be lodged online.
Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidance
June 2020 – Tenant Fees Act
The Tenant Fees Act was introduced in England in June 2019. This prevents any fees being charged to a tenant entering a new tenancy that are not rent, a deposit, a holding deposit, or charges for breaches of the terms of their tenancy. From June 2020 the Act will be extended to include all existing tenancies.
If a banned fee, such as for cleaning, pets, referencing, inventories or administration is taken from the tenant, they can seek this back from the County Court and the landlord may incur fines between £5,000 and £30,000.
This legislation also limits the amount of deposit that can be taken for any new or replacement tenancy to a maximum of five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is below £50,000. If the rent is above £50,000 but less than £100,000 a deposit of up to six weeks’ rent can be taken.
Where a fixed term tenancy becomes a statutory periodic tenancy after 1st June 2019 and the deposit held exceeds the five or six weeks of rent limit, the excess deposit does not need reducing. The deposit cap rule only applies for new fixed term tenancies or tenancy renewals.
Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tenant-fees-act-2019-guidance
July 2020 – Electrical Safety
The Government is proposing that from 1st July 2020 the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 will apply to any new tenancy, and from 1st April 2021 will also apply to all existing tenancies. These regulations still need to be enacted by Parliament.
Under the regulation’s, landlords need to ensure that all fixed electrical installations in a property are tested prior to the tenancy commencing and that the tenant is supplied with a copy of the certificate before they move in. The Landlord must retain a copy until the next inspection takes place. The electrics must then be tested at least every five years by a qualified person.
Where any remedial works are required, the landlord has up to 28 days from the date of the initial inspection to have a qualified person action them. They must obtain written confirmation that the work has been carried out and the electrical safety standards have been met. The tenant needs to be supplied with a copy of this written confirmation along with a copy of the original report requiring the remedial works. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to £30,000.
If you would like to discuss how we can help, or for further advice, please call us on 01279 798866.