Energy performance changes scrapped
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) awards a property an energy efficiency rating between A – most efficient – to G – the least efficient. Since 1 April 2020, it has been illegal to let or continue to let a residential property if that property has an EPC rating below E unless a valid exemption applies.
This means that landlords are required to ensure that their rental properties have an EPC rating of E or above, provided an exemption does not apply. The government had proposed changes to these requirements. Under these proposals, landlords were set to be required to achieve an EPC rating of C or above for new residential tenancies by 2025.
For existing tenancies, the deadline was to be 2028. However, Rishi Sunak announced in September that these proposals have now been scrapped after a review by the government. One of the concerns of the government was that the costs of upgrading a property’s EPC rating could be passed onto the tenant in the form of a higher rent.
Banning of “no-fault” evictions delayed
On 17 May 2023, the Renters (Reform) bill was introduced to parliament. The bill was proposed to overhaul the private rented sector in England with the headline proposal being the banning of “no fault” evictions under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, as promised by the Conservatives in their 2019 manifesto.
Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 applies to assured shorthold tenancies and allows a landlord to evict a tenant without having to give any reason. A section 21 notice allows a landlord to serve two months’ notice to terminate a tenancy once a fixed-term tenancy has expired, or at any point during a periodic tenancy. Once the notice has expired, if the tenant has not vacated the property, the landlord can then apply for a possession order.
The Housing Secretary, Michael Gove, however, announced on 23 October that the abolishment of “no fault” evictions is to be delayed as the court system is not yet fit for purpose. It seems therefore that the abolition of “no fault” evictions will not proceed for some time. With a general election looming at some point in 2024 or 2025, the uncertainty in this area looks to remain.
Despite the delay to the abolishment of “no fault” evictions, other aspects of the bill could be implemented beforehand with the bill now at the committee stage, the third of the five stages in the Commons. The other aspects of the bill include providing tenants with a right to request to keep a pet at their property with landlords unable to refuse the same unreasonably. It also includes provisions to help regulate annual rent increases and allow landlords to evict tenants for anti-social behaviour.