Concerns voiced over new deregulation act effect on private landlords in England

A range of changes come into force today in England which affect private sector residential landlords amid concern that many are not aware of them.

Under the Deregulation Act 2015 there are changes which affect whether or not a landlord can serve a Section 21 notice on an assured shorthold tenancy as well as changes to the form itself. 

However, following lengthy consultation, tenant eviction firm Landlord Action has concerns that not enough has been done to inform landlords of the changes and questions whether the Government has enough resources in place to properly enforce measures against so-called ‘retaliation eviction’.

Just some of the key changes which come into effect for new tenancies entered into from 01 October, include the use of the new prescribed Section 21 notice which combines fixed term and periodic. A section 21 notice can no longer be served in the first four months of a tenancy and a section 21 notice will now have a six month life span.

Despite recognising that the changes are in response to the ever growing private rental sector and a need for best practice, Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action has expressed several concerns over the changes.

‘There have been a lot of significant changes in a short amount of time and I would like to have seen the Government proportion a greater budget to educating landlords, particularly those that don’t use agents to manage their properties, to ensure they are up to speed with new legislation,’ he said.

‘We still receive calls to our advice line on a weekly basis from landlords who don’t know about the deposit scheme which came into effect eight years ago,’ he pointed out.

Less than 12 months ago Shamplina told The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector at the Houses of Parliament that a law on retaliation eviction could result in tenants abusing the system and use it to remain in properties rent free for longer.

As part of the new Act tenants will now have the first four months of a tenancy to file a complaint to a landlord with regards to issues of disrepair. ‘Good landlords will deal with complaints within the given 14 days, but my concern is the level of resource the local authorities have in place to action environmental health officers to carry out inspections when staffing levels have been cut to the bone,’ said Shamplina.

‘Landlords’ circumstances can change and if they need to end their tenancy, but can’t because they are waiting for an inspection or to gain access from the tenant, landlords are going to lose valuable time,’ he pointed out.

If a property is considered in disrepair, landlords are now unable to serve a section 21 notice for six months from the date an improvement notice is served by the council and Shamplina believes this could lead to a huge spike in complaints from tenants.

‘I am a bit fed up of all the frequent landlord bashing. It is about time there were more positive statements for landlords in the private rented sector which now stands at approximately 19% of the housing market,’ he pointed out.