Landlords and agents should be aware of important changes to the rules covering HMOs (house of multiple occupation) and issuing Section 21 notices, which come into force from today.

New HMO rules

From today, all landlords, or managing agents, of properties which have five or more occupiers who form two or more households will need to have, or have applied for, a mandatory HMO license.

If you have a property with five or more occupiers who do not form just one household, and this includes children, regardless of the number of storeys the property has, you need an HMO license issued by your local authority.

There is no grace period and the penalties for not complying can be severe: up to a £30,000 fine, a First Tier Property Tribunal Rent Repayment Order and a Banning Order, and a criminal record.

Some landlords may need to make structural alterations or improvements to safety standards to comply with the new minimum room sizes in HMOs.

New section 21 rules

From today, all landlords in England with Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), regardless of their start date, will need to comply with the requirements of the Deregulation Act 2015 as to when and how a landlord can serve a Section 21 Notice, which enables them to terminate a tenancy agreement.

When issuing a Section 21 Notice of Possession, landlords will now be required to use Form 6A.

The form, prescribed by government, combines the two previous types of Notices into a single Notice for both periodic and fixed-term tenancies. Therefore, landlords should stop using their old Notices from today.

In addition, under the Deregulation Act 2015, landlords wishing to issue their tenants with a Section 21 Notice should ensure they have shared the ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide with tenants; make sure the property has an up to date Gas Safety Certificate and the tenants have seen it.

Landlords must also publish the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (except when the property isn’t required to have one); inform tenants which scheme their deposit is protected in; where the property is licensed, provide a copy of the licence to all of the tenants.