The Deregulation Act 2015 – important changes for landlords and tenants19 Jun 2015
The Deregulation Act 2015 came into force on 26 March 2015. The Act aims to clarify issues which arose in two recent court cases, Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues and Charolambous v Ng. These cases concerned requirements around protecting tenancy deposits, particularly those taken before 6 April 2007.
Implications for deposits taken before 6 April 2007
If a deposit on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) was taken before 6 April 2007, and the AST was subsequently renewed or became a statutory periodic tenancy (SPT) before 6 April 2007, the deposit must be protected, and the prescribed information under s213(5) of the Housing Act 2004 must be provided. A section 21 notice cannot be given unless these requirements are met. However, there are no financial penalties for landlords who fail to comply with these requirements, on the basis that both the AST and SPT arose before the statutory obligation to protect the deposit came into force. This was the reasoning of the Court of Appeal in Charolambous v Ng.
If a deposit on an AST was taken before 6 April 2007, and the AST was subsequently renewed or became a SPT after 6 April 2007, the deposit must be protected and the prescribed information provided. Landlords who fail to do this cannot serve a section 21 notice, and may also face financial penalties, as the SPT arose after the tenancy deposit protection legislation came into force, as confirmed by the Court of Appeal in Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues.
In both of the above scenarios, the deposit must be protected by 23 June 2015, so any unprotected deposits should be placed into protection schemes as a matter of urgency. Otherwise landlords risk losing the ability to serve a section 21 notice and/or financial penalties, depending on the dates of the AST and SPT.
Implications for deposits taken after 6 April 2007
If a deposit was taken on an AST before 6 April 2007 and the landlord protected the deposit and provided the prescribed information to the tenants on that date, there is no need to repeat the procedure if the AST is renewed or becomes an SPT. This is on the condition that the deposit is still held in the same protection scheme, and that the parties and property details have not changed. If the scheme or relevant details have changed, the landlord must inform the tenants in order to comply with the Act.
Additional provisions of the Act
Preventing retaliatory evictions (coming into force on 1 October 2015 in England only)
Section 33 of the Act restricts a landlord’s ability to serve a section 21 notice in circumstances where the tenant has made a written complaint about the condition of the premises. A section 21 notice will not be valid if the landlord did not provide a written response within 14 days, provided an inadequate response, or served a section 21 notice in response to the complaint. The tenant can also make a complaint about the conditions of the property to their local housing authority, which may then serve an enforcement notice on the landlord. If the housing authority does this, the landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice within 6 months of the date of the enforcement notice.
Although the Act provides that the tenant must make a written complaint, further provisions of section 33 state that the protection to tenants under the Act will still apply if the tenant did not know the landlord’s postal or email address, or if they made reasonable efforts to contact the landlord in order to make the complaint.
The above provisions of section 33 highlight the importance for landlords of ensuring that an adequate response to complaints is provided within 14 days, and that tenants are provided with adequate contact details for either the landlord or their agent.
Agent’s details on the prescribed information
Section 30 of the Act clarifies that where an agent has protected a deposit on behalf of a landlord, the agent’s contact details can be provided within the Prescribed Information. It is therefore sufficient for a landlord to provide their agent’s contact details to comply with this obligation.
For further information and assistance, please contact the Litigation team on 0161 838 7807 or contact us.