Why do I Need to Keep up to Date?
Consider this: A Landlord owns an older property with a long-term tenant staying there on a periodic month to month tenancy, there is a tenancy agreement which was signed years ago. The tenancy agreement has not been updated and some of the clauses and the wording are out of date.It was signed before the deposit scheme existed and so no deposit has ever been registered with a scheme and the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property is below the legal requirement.
Despite various improvements, further major work was still required which at the time, the tenant had verbally agreed to being done when the tenancy ended to avoid any further disruption to the occupants.The tenant had over the years become more awkward and recently complained to the Council about areas of damp that had allegedly been ignored by the landlord on the basis that it was an old property.
This is a disastrous scenario at first glance given that a new tenancy can’t be signed without the deposit being registered and an acceptable EPC being given to the tenant; coupled with this if an eviction notice is given there is a risk of the accusation of it being a “Retaliatory Eviction” in regards to the damp problem.
There are various ways of tackling this situation, none of them likely to be painless, but the easiest solution is probably as follows:
- Firstly, get the damp assessed, keeping both the tenant and the Council informed so you are being seen as a proactive landlord.
- At the same time talk to a competent energy assessor who understands older properties in relation to the EPC algorithms, ask for advice on what can be done to raise the low rating and which improvements could be looked at.
- Look into whether there are any energy efficiency grants available to lessen your costs.
- If it is quite apparent that the work that can be done will not have the affect required to raise the EPC level sufficiently look into obtaining an exemption certificate which will at least cover this tenancy.
Now the painful part: the deposit will have to be either registered with a scheme, or returned to the tenant – either option does leave you vulnerable to the tenant seeking three months’ rent as compensation for not registering the deposit when it was legally due to be done.
Once the deposit and the EPC are sorted, the options open up in terms of renewing the tenancy on a new agreement and presumably at a higher rent to the current tenant; or alternatively they would now be in a position to legally regain possession of the property using a Section 21/6a Notice.
As can be seen it is possible to navigate this awkward scenario, and this is just one of the paths that could have been taken. It does highlight the importance of keeping the tenancy agreements up to date. Many landlords consider themselves to be reasonable and fair; however, not being aware of the ever-changing regulations can affect and hinder even the best and well-intended management!
If you are not sure whether you are complying fully with all the rules and regulations as a Landlord Sunshine can help – get in touch!