A day in the life of HF Assist

HF Assist is Hamilton Fraser’s new, easy to use helpline for letting agents. Our property professionals offer support with day to day lettings matters, landlord and tenant law, business contracts, HR and employment law.

In our ‘Day in the life of HF Assist’ posts, we cherry pick questions from our customers and share the answers, for everyone’s benefit.

In this one, we consider cleaning clauses and changes to EPCs.

 

Q: If I can’t put a cleaning clause in my contract, can I still deduct an amount from the tenant’s deposit for cleaning at the end of the tenancy?

A: The new legislation that came into force with the tenant fee ban in June 2019 doesn’t prevent you requiring a tenant to leave the property cleaned to the same standard that it was in at the start of the tenancy. What it does do is stop you making it a requirement that the tenant must pay the cost of a professional clean at the end of the tenancy. In other words, the tenant can do the cleaning themselves, or arrange for someone to do it for them, but you can’t charge them a fee.

If the evidence shows that the tenant has not returned the property cleaned to the same standard that it was in at the start of the tenancy, this will be a breach of the contract. A reasonable deduction can therefore be made from the tenancy deposit for the cost of completing the cleaning needed.

 

Did you know?

  • HF Assist Premium subscribers can download a free template for assured shorthold tenancy agreements, covering these and other pitfalls. Find out more here
  • mydeposits gives a wealth of guidance on typical deposit deductions and offers free dispute resolution to scheme members.

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Hamilton Fraser's new helpline for letting agents covering legal issues

Q: What is the impact of the changes to EPCs that come into effect on 1 April 2020?

I’m getting confused as I’ve advised my landlord that the EPC requirement will apply to all tenancies after that date. My landlord is adamant that one of his properties is exempt because the tenancy first started in 2006.

A: We come across this argument often – that theacid test’ is when the property first came to market.

The Energy Efficiency Regulations 2015 meant that, from 1 April 2018, landlords had to ensure that their properties reached at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E for any new tenancy, renewal, or extension.

From 1 April 2020, these requirements will change and all domestic private rented properties in England and Wales must reach an EPC E rating, even ones where tenants are staying in place.

There are some exemptions – one of which includes tenancies arising before October 2008. This is because if a tenancy predates the regulations themselves, the regulations can’t apply. Technically that is true – but only where nothing has happened to change that tenancy.

Be sure to check, therefore, whether there was any new tenancy, renewal, or extension since 1 April 2018!

 

Did you know?

Join HF Assist

Hamilton Fraser's new helpline for letting agents covering legal issues