Last week I attended the first of the 2020 Propertymark Regional Conferences with Hayley and Angie at Oulton Hall in Leeds. The hours of attendance contribute to our mandatory CPD (Continual Professional Development). For many Propertymark agents, these are seen as a necessary evil, but I genuinely find them useful for ensuring we are up-to-date with legislation, and the processes we need to adopt to be able to provide a quality service to our clients.

What did alarm me was the number of attending delegates who had no idea of some recent legislation changes, the consequences of which could potentially cost both the agent and their landlord clients a lot of money. The number of Propertymark agents who were not aware of the changes was small, but how on earth would the 1000s of non-Propertymark agents around the country be aware of the changes if our delegates had missed the changes.

Both changes relate to the service of a legal Notice to Quit. When an agent or landlord serves a s.21 Notice to Quit (under sub-sections 1 or 4) it is only legal where the tenant was provided with an in-date EPC and where appropriate an in-date Gas Safety Certificate at the start of the tenancy, and an up to date How to Rent Guide. Most agents know about the EPC and gas certificate, but with the How to Rent Guides being updated regularly, many agents either don’t use the Guide or serve an out-of-date guide.

The Notice to Quit must be served via a Form 6A, but it’s essential the 6A used is up to date. The Form has changed multiple times in the past couple of years, and is scheduled to change twice more in 2020.

If the agent or landlord serves an out-of-date How to Rent Guide or out-of-date Form 6A, the Court’s will reject an application for possession. Where the s.21 has been used due to the tenant being in arrears, rather than the alternative s.8 Notice, the rejected Court application will leave the tenant in the property, on-going rent arrears, and the requirement to start the possession proceedings from scratch. This can easily lead to another three or four months of no rental income before another Court date comes around, along with additional Court fees.

It’s essential managing agents keep up to date with legislation changes. Government is moving towards licensing for estate agents, in the hope and expectation this raises both the standard of estate agents and the public’s perception of them. I welcome these changes; licensing should have been introduced years ago. However, estate agents have always had a legal obligation to act in the best interest of their clients, and that can only be achieved by the agent understanding the legislation that their client may not even know exists. Is your estate agent up to date with the legislation to look after your best interests? #moorethananestateagent