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Landlords and letting agents need to be ready for changes from the beginning of October

Changes for landlords and letting agents in England are due to come into force from the beginning of October affecting how they can evict a tenant and relating to gas safety and energy performance. From 01 October landlords will be required to use Form 6A, the form prescribed by the Government, which combines the two previous types of Notices into a single Notice for both periodic and fixed term tenancies. It means that landlords and letting agents should stop using their existing Notices as all assured shorthold tenancies, regardless of their start date will need to comply with the new guidelines. In addition, under the Deregulation Act 2015, landlords and agents wishing to issue their tenants with a Section 21 Notice should ensure they have shared the How to rent: the checklist for renting in England guide with tenants. They will also need to make sure the property has an up to date Gas Safety Certificate and the tenants have seen it, publish the property’s Energy Performance Certificate, except when the property isn’t required to have one, inform tenants which scheme their deposit is protected in and where the property is licensed, provide a copy of the licence to all of the tenants. Members and non-members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) can contact a legal helpline if they need guidance and the organisation is also providing fact sheets to download on its website along with a dedicated course on ending residential tenancies, which will aim to help letting agents understand the changes to the Section 21 Notices, and what it means in practice. ‘When the changes come into effect, it’s important agents are executing effective Section 21 Notices when necessary. There is a legal question over whether the additional documents need to be served on pre-October 2015 tenancies, but it’s very unlikely that a judge would throw out a case on the basis that an agent has provided the tenant with too much information. A test case before the courts is probably required to determine exactly what needs to be served for these tenancies,’ said David Cox, ARLA chief executive. ‘Therefore, we think that the safest course of action for letting agents is to serve all the documentation when issuing a Section 21 Notice. The Deregulation Act 2015 makes the will of Parliament clear, that these documents should be served, so it’s easier to comply with the spirit of the law rather than rely on a potential legal technicality,’ he explained. ‘These changes highlight so clearly that the current system is a mess which must be simplified and improved. We call on the Government to bring forward its promised Call for Evidence on a new Housing Court and work with us to build a system fit for today’s private rented sector,’ he added.

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