Tenants at risk of losing their home are set to benefit from enhanced legal support following a consultation launched by the government.

It is therefore becoming increasingly important for Landlords to ensure they follow the correct procedure. That procedure starts before the tenant even moves in and so it is very important to get this right at the outset to save issues and potential wasted costs further down the line.

A landlord’s key requirements arise out of the Deregulation Act 2015 that brought in new protective measures for tenants.

If a landlord does not comply with those requirements, they could be faced with difficulties at a later date if they would like to serve notice upon their tenant to vacate the property.

The main requirements relate to ensuring landlords give the following to their tenant:

  1. A valid Energy Performance Certificate;
  2. A Gas Safety Certificate (if applicable);
  3. A Government How to Rent Booklet; and
  4. A Deposit protection certificate and protection information

The above is not an exhaustive list however they are the key requirements that a landlord must have fulfilled before they can validly serve a Notice under the ‘Section 21 Housing Act 1988’ which gives a tenant 2 months to vacate the property. The tenant does not have to be in default to serve a Section 21 notice and so they can be very useful if the landlord has a change of plans for the property.

If the landlord did not comply with the requirements and issued court proceedings to evict the tenant, the tenant may have a valid defence to say the notice was not valid and they would be allowed to stay at the property. It can take over 6 months from the service of the notice to get to this stage and so a lot of time and money can be lost getting to this stage.

The Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS) offers free ‘on-the-day’ legal advice to anyone in danger of being evicted from their home or having their property repossessed, regardless of their financial circumstances.

The consultation proposes several key changes that will improve a tenant’s access to support and advice not only at the hearing on the day, but also prior to the hearing. There are also proposals to amend and expand the funding structures for Legal Aid provisions.

If you would like to speak to one of our team for any advice in relation to the above, or other property matters, please call Laura Bright or Annabel Stainer on 01524 846 846 further information.