Despite the current lockdown and everything going on, legislation is still going through parliament and previously announced legislation is still to go ahead.
Fitness for Human Habitation
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 commenced in March 2019 for new tenancies and renewals but has now extended to most existing tenancies from 20 March 2020.
This applies to England only at this time.
Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)
Since 1 April 2018, any new tenancy or renewal had to meet the minimum energy standard of “E” and this will continue to apply to existing tenancies from 1 April 2020.
This might be difficult for landlords to comply with who have not been able to make all necessary energy improvements to bring it up to an “E” given the current stay at home requirements.
The legislation does continue to apply and the guidance in relation to staying at home specifically allows travel to and from work if the work can’t be done from home:
travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
As at 25 March 2020, it is therefore still possible for works to continue as long as the guidance is followed:
when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
We will have to wait and see if tighter measures are introduced.
The same advice for gas safety records as already published will apply (express consent from both assessor and tenants before arranging and ensure all adequate measures are taken).
In our view, it wouldn’t be in the public interest to prosecute or issue a penalty if the landlord gets the improvement works completed as soon as able to after any lockdown period.
The MEES rules apply to England and Wales.
Renting Homes Prescribed Limits
The Renting Homes (Fees Etc.) (Prescribed Limits of Default Payments) (Wales) Regulations 2020 will continue to commence from 28 April 2020 and you can see full details here.
This shouldn’t affect landlords or agents as can be complied with when working from home.
These regulations apply to Wales only.
Fixed Electrical Testing
We previously announced the draft The Electrical Safety Standards Regulations 2020.
These have now been approved by parliament and The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 will come into force from 1 June 2020.
These regulations shouldn’t be too problematic for landlords during the lockdown period though because they will only apply in the first instance to new or renewal tenancies from 1 July 2020.
If a landlord or agent is able to conduct viewings at that time, there’s no reason why an electrical safety test can’t be done too. A renewal can be delayed if needs be to ensure the tenancy is not caught.
The regulations won’t apply to existing tenancies until 1 April 2021.
Because of the constant stream of news and work the coronavirus pandemic is creating, we haven’t had chance to go through the final version of the regulations in detail but at a quick glance, they look identical to the draft so full details can be found on our previous article.
We will edit that article or produce a new one when we get chance.
The electrical regulations only apply to England.
Although currently only a Bill, it’s expected that the Coronavirus Bill will become the Coronavirus Act 2020 one day this week.
We have already reported on the relevant part for our subscribers here.
When passed, it will apply to England and Wales.