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Setting-up a “bullet-proof” tenancy in 2018
Article published by Landlord Zone 14th march 2018
Assured Shorthold Tenancy:
Under new rules introduced over the last couple of years, setting up a “bullet-proof” AST in 2018 is a bigger challenge that in the past, but it need not be all that difficult if you know exactly what’s required.
Get it wrong though, and you could be permanently lumbered with a bad tenant if you have problems, and in the unfortunate event that you need to evict; with something like 20,000 possession claims every year in the UK, the risk is not insignificant.
This article applies primarily to English law. Although tenancy laws are similar in other jurisdictions, there may be significant differences. Always seek professional advice before making or not making important decisions
The key to avoiding this sort of trouble, and being in a position to use Section 21 to enforce an efficient eviction, you need two things:
You have completed and served all the correct paperwork
You have proof that you did that.
Many landlords forget the crucial second point, because if a tenant denies having received something your court application will be dismissed and you can say goodbye to your £325 court fee – back to square one with rent arrears racking up.
In order to retain the considerable benefits of using the “no-fault” Section 21 eviction process, Parliament has introduced several conditions that landlords / agents must now comply with. These hurdles are designed to weed-out rogue landlords and generally improve the quality of lettings for tenants.
A bullet proof tenancy is also, of course, reliant on following a rigorous tenancy selection process: www.tenantverify.co.uk
These new rules apply to tenancies commencing on or after the 1st October 2015, and will apply to all existing tenancies after 1st October 2018.
These are the documents you must give your tenant if your new tenancy is to be bulletproof:
1 An up-to-date Tenancy Agreement from a quality supplier. Given the number of rule changes recently it’s important that your agreement takes these into account. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/model-agreement-for-a-shorthold-assured-tenancy
2 EPC – the energy performance certificate for your property must be current at the commencement of the tenancy – it has a life of 10 years. From April 2018, MEES regulations require that all residential and commercial rentals in England or Wales must have a minimum EPC rating of E before granting a new or renewal tenancy. Applies to existing rentals from 2020.
3 Gas Safety Certificate – if there is gas in the property a current certificate must be in force at the commencement, and renewed within 12 months. It is now important you don’t have any period without a gas certificate in force, so have the gas checks done early – you then have 28 days to give your tenant/s a replacement. http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/landlords/gassaferecord.htm
4 The Government’s “How to Rent” guide. The MUST be the version which is current at the commencement of a new tenancy, and if there has been a newer version, at the commencement of a “renewal” tenancy. Find the current version here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent archived older versions can be found here https://www.landlordzone.co.uk/documents
5 The Deposit Protection documentation provided by the DP agency you are using, if you take a deposit. This should include the statutory Prescribed Information (s213 notice) http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/797/article/2/made to be served on the person or persons who provide the deposit. The deposit MUST be protected within 30 days of its receipt.
6 Tenant’s Right to Rent – all tenants 18 and over must be checked which means checking (face-to-face) and taking a copy of “photo” documents (passport etc.) which prove tenants have the legal right to reside in the UK for the period of the tenancy. See guidance here and avoiding discrimination here
7 A tenant’s file containing operating and safety instructions for all appliances, tools etc. supplied, plus other useful information such as fuses, stop tap locations, bin collections, alarm setting, emergency contacts etc. Example https://www.tenantverify.co.uk/information-pack.html
Documents can be served via email providing the tenant has agreed to accept them in that way (clause in the agreement), but the full document must be supplied, not just a link to a website.
It is preferable and recommended that items 1 to 5 be physically incorporated (attached to) the tenancy agreement so there can be no argument as to what has been supplied and received. A full copy of the whole should also be supplied to any guarantor involved.
Download a selection of useful free and paid-for documents, agreements, forms, letter templates and checklists here: https://www.landlordzone.co.uk/documents and here https://www.tenantverify.co.uk/useful-documents.html
For information on our acurate and detailed inventories please visit www.abbeyindependentinventories.co.uk
Legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.
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