The Housing Act 1988: Rights For Landlords

The Housing Act 1988 covers the rights and the responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. To give you a through overview as well as its rules and exceptions, why not have a read of this handy little guide below, on the laws which govern the Private Rental Sector (PRS). It is also important to recognise that it is not the same thing as a tenancy agreement issued via an online property agent, and is used to stipulate the rules within the afore mentioned.

Rent Regulation

The Housing Act 1988 heavily reduced rent regulation, allowing landlords to charge the prices they desired for their properties. There remain, however, circumstances in which the tenants can challenge the rent. These are during the first 6-months of an assured tenancy or when served a notice that the rent is due to increase.

When challenging the cost of rent, tenants will put forward their case to the Rent Assessment Panel (an independent decision-making body sometimes known as a Rent Assessment Committee or Rent Assessment Tribunal). Although unlikely to happen, you as a landlord have the powers to end a tenancy through Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Landlords also now have the option to raise rents via a ‘renewal’ tenancy agreement, without use of a notice procedure.

Succession

Through the Housing Act 1988, it is declared that only a spouse can inherit rental rights. This probably will not affect you, as assured tenancies are not common within the rental sector. Assured short-hold tenancies, which began in the late ’80’s comprise most tenancies in the private sector. They have no rights of succession, meaning that if a tenant passes away, their spouse has no legal grounding or right to remain in the property.

Security of Tenure

The Housing Act 1988 defines tenancy in two types: one with long term security, and one without. The first is called an assured tenancy and is rarely used by landlords in the private sector and more likely to be used by housing associations.

Assured short hold tenancies (ASTs) are widespread amongst landlords. They are different from the above as they allow tenants to challenge their rent as well as offering short hold grounds for possession as per Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

How does this affect landlords?

Within Section 5 of the Housing Act 1988, at the end of a contractual fixed term, an assured or assured tenancy continues onward as a statutory periodic tenancy after its end. A periodic short hold tenancy permits the let to be ended at any time, after a correctly drafted Section 21 notice has been issued.

Changes to Section 21

The Deregulation act 2015 ushered in several changes to Section 21 in order to prevent “retaliatory evictions.” New tenancies beginning after (or on) October 1st 2015 carry guidelines on when and how a Section 21 notice can be filed by landlords. From October the 1st 2018, these guidelines also applied to all assured short hold tenancies. The new rules include:

  • If the property is subject to licensing, a copy of said license must be provided to all tenants.
  • Tenants must be given Prescribed Information regarding the protection of their deposit
  • A copy of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be given to tenants
  • A Gas Safety Certificate must be issued
  • A  physical or digital “How to Rent” guide must also be given to tenants
  • All of the above must be up to date for a Section 21 notice to be valid
  • Finally, Form 6a which conjoins former tenancy agreements – both periodic and fixed-term into a single notice – must be filled out.

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