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Assured shorthold tenancy requirements

New legislation has imposed further obligations on landlords and failure to comply could have serious consequences.

What to consider:
Check the identity of your tenant – The Immigration Act 2014 provides that prior to letting a property on or after 1 February 2016 in England private residential landlords must carry out identity checks on their prospective tenants to ensure their immigration status gives them the right to rent a property in England. If the landlord fails to verify their status prior to the commencement of the tenancy agreement and the tenant is found to be renting without the requisite right to do so the landlord risks a fine of up to £3,000.
Is the property in an area governed by a Selective Licensing Scheme? Following recent legislation many local authorities have introduced Selective Licensing Schemes. If such a scheme applies then the landlord must obtain a licence to rent the property out. The consequences of non compliance are substantial and include liability to pay an uncapped fine, any rent received during the unlicensed period and the inability to serve a Section 21 Notice.
What documentation must you provide to the tenant? – Landlords must, prior to renting, provide their tenants with a valid EPC, a current gas safety certificate and a copy of the Government’s publication entitled “How to rent”. Failure to do so will prevent the landlord from serving a Section 21 Notice. Landlords should also provide records of electrical safety checks, ensure appliances are safe and re-check every 5 years.
New form of Section 21 Notice – If a landlord wishes to regain possession of the property on or after the expiry of the fixed term, for all tenancies created or renewed after 1 October 2015, a new form of Section 21 Notice must be used. This does not apply to periodic tenancies created after 1 October 2015 which follow on from earlier tenancies. In addition landlords should note that they are unable to serve the new Section 21 Notice within the first four months of a tenancy and possession proceedings under Section 21 (if so required) must be brought within six months of service of the notice.
Deposit – If the tenant has provided a rent deposit, the landlord must protect it in a government approved scheme. The deposit must be registered within 30 days and the prescribed information served within 30 days of receiving the deposit.