Tougher penalties for landlords as new tenant laws start
By Simon Thompson
Landlords need to watch out for two major law changes that alter their obligations with tenants from April 6, 2012.
The government has drafted new tenancy deposit protection laws to plug the fiasco of the current legislation which limits how tenants can claim compensation from rogue landlords.
New deposit protection laws give landlords 30 days to lodge a deposit with one of the three government approved schemes. They must provide the renter with a certificate proving the deposit is safeguarded and a leaflet explaining how deposit protection works.
Failure to meet the deadline lets the tenant make a claim for compensation of up to three times the deposit value - and the new law gives them up to six years to ask for redress and regardless of when they left the rental property.
Defences offered by loopholes in the current rules are closed, so landlords cannot lodge a deposit retrospectively.
Landlords with deposits already on protection do not need to take any action, but unprotected deposits must be lodged by May 5 to prevent the tenant claiming compensation.
Meanwhile, landlords and letting agents also have to be aware of tougher energy performance certificate rules coming in to force on April 6 as well.
The EPC scheme has undergone a complete revamp - from the design of forms to obligations for landlords and agents.
Renters must have a copy of the EPC before they sign a tenancy agreement, and the aim is to obtain one within seven days of marketing the property.
Trading standards have improved powers to demand an EPC from a letting agent, while flouting the new law could cost landlords and letting agents a £200 fine.
Homes already on the market with an old-style EPC do not have to pay for a new certificate.
The rules apply to residential and commercial property - and also to marketing a property for sale as well as rent.