Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 15.49.55Landlords of residential properties are being warned not to fall foul of new and imminent legal changes designed to give further protection to tenants.

The boom in buy-to-let, together with high demand for rental properties, means landlords and their agents need to be aware of the latest list of requirements for letting homes.

A fine of up to £5,000 for failing to equip a property with enough smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and a claim for repossession being thrown out of court because of an invalid energy performance certificate, are just some of the risks facing landlords.

The dispute resolution team at BHP Law is hosting free seminars throughout January in Stockton and Darlington to help residential landlords, tenants and agents understand the changes and to offer give guidance.

The Deregulation Act 2015, which recently came into force, prevents landlords from serving a Section 21 Notice Seeking Possession until after a tenant has lived in a  property for at least four months.

For new assured shorthold tenancies started after October 1, landlords must also supply a raft of documents to tenants including a copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s booklet “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”, a gas safety certificate, prescribed information for deposit protection, an Energy Performance Certificate and a record of any electrical inspections.

BHP lawyer Rosie Woodward said: “Failure to comply with service of these documents may result in any notice seeking possession being declared invalid by the court.”

Where a tenant has complained about the condition of a property, their landlord must respond with an adequate course of action within 14 days and, under the new law, cannot simply serve a notice to remove the tenant.

“It is anticipated that there may be a rise in the amount of complaints landlords receive from tenants, but the purpose is to prevent landlords from simply serving a s21 Notice instead of carrying out required work to properties,” added Rosie.

A further regulation that is expected to be approved soon by MPs will demand that landlords install a smoke alarm on each storey of a property where there is living accommodation, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room being used as living accommodation with a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.

Rosie said: “The landlord is responsible for carrying out checks of each alarm on the day the tenancy begins.

“The courts and legal representatives alike will be vigilant in checking that landlords and agents have conformed with all legislation on application for possession.”

The law on deposit protection has also been clarified in the Deregulation Act 2015.

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