Changes to Residential Tenancy Rules for Farm Landlords
New residential tenancy legislation continues to be introduced across Britain, making the tenancy process for rural landlords increasingly complex and demanding.
Many of the recent changes aim to make the private rental market better, safer and fairer – a goal shared by responsible landlords who already provide quality housing.
There is a wide range of new and evolving regulations in the sector, with decentralized regions each taking their own approach.
So, tracking an owner’s legal responsibilities and ensuring compliance can take a lot of time and effort.
See also: Find out the average agricultural rents where you live 2022
Some of the new requirements owners should be aware of include the following, along with other changes that appear to be on the way.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on October 1, 2022.
The installation of at least one smoke alarm is a requirement for each floor of a house rented since 2015.
From now on, all owners are required to ensure that a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in all rooms of their dwelling containing a fixed combustion appliance.
This includes gas fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and oil or gas boilers, but excludes gas stoves.
Owners are legally obliged to repair or replace alarms once notified that they are faulty – although testing remains the responsibility of the occupier.
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will come into force on 1 December 2022.
It will contain a requirement for homeowners to install a carbon monoxide detector in every room that contains a gas, oil or solid fuel burning appliance.
Such detectors can be battery powered.
All landlords are also required to have a smoke alarm on each floor of a dwelling.
These must be connected to the power supply and interconnected to all other smoke detectors on the property – meaning that if an alarm goes off, they all go off.
Private owners have been required to have interconnected smoke and heat detectors for some time. Where there is a charcoal appliance, there should also be a carbon monoxide detector.
Electrical safety checks
The Renting Houses (Wales) Act will also require landlords in Wales to ensure that the electrical installations of a rented property are inspected by a suitably qualified person every five years to ensure that they comply with electrical safety standards.
This is similar to legislation that has been in place for some time in England and Scotland.
Right to lease checks
The temporary rules for rent entitlement checks, introduced in response to Covid-19, ended on September 30, 2022.
For the past two years, it has been possible to perform paper checks of identity documents via video call.
However, owners or their agents are now required to meet the applicant in person to carry out the checks.
Energy efficiency standards
England and Wales
Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) were first implemented in 2018.
They introduced a requirement for residential landlords to ensure any new rentals have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a minimum rating of E, unless the property qualifies for an exemption.
The government has since consulted on raising the minimum EPC rating to C for new residential rentals from 2025 and for existing residential rentals from 2028.
Although he has yet to announce the outcome of the consultation, the rules are widely expected to get tougher.
As part of its Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Scottish Government has announced plans to introduce regulations requiring all private let properties to achieve a minimum standard equivalent to EPC C by 2025, when changing lease, with a 2028 backstop for all remaining existing properties. Properties.
Other lease changes
Contract conversions in Wales
The Renting Houses (Wales) Act will bring other important changes for landlords in Wales from 1 December 2022.
At this stage, all existing rental contracts will be converted to ‘occupancy contracts’, with private landlords using ‘standard’ occupancy contracts.
Where there is a fixed term Assured Short Term Rental (AST), this will be converted to a standard fixed term occupancy contract.
If it is a periodic AST, it will be converted into a periodic standard contract.
If there is a new occupier, owners will be required to provide a written statement of the contract within 14 days of the date of occupancy.
For converted contracts, they have up to six months from December 1, 2022 to provide an existing tenant or licensee with a written statement of the contract.
The new law also requires the landlord to ensure that the dwelling is fit for human habitation, and a contract holder will not be required to pay rent for any period in which the property is deemed unfit.
Obligations include electrical safety as well as proper smoke and carbon monoxide detection.
Tenants Reform Bill (England)
A Tenant Reform Bill has been included in the 2022 Queen’s Speech, with significant implications for landlords and tenants in England.
If it becomes law, landlords will no longer be able to serve notices under Section 21 – known as “no-fault” evictions – unless they have valid grounds for repossession, in “reasonable circumstances”.
These grounds will be defined by law and will include, for example, cases of anti-social behaviour.
All renters who previously would have had an insured rental or an insured short-term rental will be moved to a single system of recurring rentals, meaning there will be no more fixed-term rentals.
The tenant notice period will also be set at two months (currently generally one month), to give landlords more time to find new tenants and minimize loss of income.
At the same time, new grounds for possession will be introduced under Article 8 to allow landlords to repossess rental property if they wish to sell it or if they or an immediate family member wish relocate.
It should be noted that Scotland has already abolished no-fault expulsions.
The Tenant Reform Bill also emphasizes the application of the Decent Housing Standard to privately rented accommodation to improve the quality of housing.
While meeting these standards is not too onerous for most homeowners, the main difference is that when kitchens and bathrooms reach a certain age (20 years for kitchens and 30 years for bathrooms) , they should be replaced rather than repaired.
Help for Scottish residential tenants
On October 6, an eviction ban and freeze on rent increases announced on September 6, 2022 was enacted through the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Bill.
This gives ministers temporary power to cap rents for private and social tenants, as well as student accommodation, and is initially in force until the end of March next year.
The rent increase cap is currently set at 0% and applies to any notice of rent increase from September 6, 2022 to at least March 31, 2023.
Notices served before September 6, 2022 can be executed as normal and the rent freeze does not apply to new tenancies, only mid-tenancy increases.
The rent ceiling can be changed while it is in effect and the measures can be extended for two further six-month periods.
Except in limited circumstances, the bill prevents the enforcement of deportation orders resulting from the cost of living crisis.
It also increases damages for unlawful evictions to a maximum of 36 months’ rent.
A new deal for tenants (Scotland)
In addition, the Scottish Government closed its consultation on “A New Deal for Tenants” in April 2022.
This proposed reforms to the current grounds for repossession under private residential tenancy agreements.
The consultation also sought views on a new national rent control system and a ban on terminating tenancies during the winter.
A new housing standard is also being considered, covering aspects such as repair and safety standards, minimum space standards, digital connectivity, and energy and heating efficiency standards.
The Scottish Government published details of the responses to its consultation in August 2022 and intends to publish a final strategy setting out the way forward by the end of this year.