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Landlord Legislation Timeline

The Alan Boswell Group understands that being a landlord today means facing a minefield of legal considerations. To help you navigate your way, you can use this timeline to see what landlord-related legislation means - for both property owners and tenants.

An interactive overview, the timeline also plots each law against the number of privately-rented properties in the UK*. This way, you can investigate and determine any link between legislation and the health of the rental property market. Simply scroll, swipe, click and explore!

*Source: Government/ONS Data on Dwelling Stock
5m
4m
3m
2m
1m

Private
renters

% of total
properties

Legislation

1980

2,043,000

Private Renters

11.9

% of total
properties

Housing Act 1980

building

Housing Act 1980

The 1980 Housing Act gave millions of council tenants the right to buy their homes from local authorities across England and Wales. The described aim was to create a “property-owning democracy”. Initially the Act was politically divisive, though supporters argued that it made access to the property ladder easier for working-class tenants. The long-term consequences and impacts on the availability of housing, and the private rented sector at large, remain hotly contested to this day.

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/apr/06/margaret-thatcher-britains-obsession-property-right-to-buy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Buy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Housing_Act_1980 http://tomcopley.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/From-Right-to-Buy-to-Buy-to-Let-Jan-2014.pdf

1981

1,910,000

Private Renters

11.1

% of total
properties

1982

1,913,000

Private Renters

11

% of total
properties

1983

1,917,000

Private Renters

10.8

% of total
properties

1984

1,920,000

Private Renters

10.7

% of total
properties

Building Act 1984

building

Building Act 1984

The Building Act 1984 is a statute applying to England and Wales, through which key secondary legislation such as building regulations are stipulated. The Act empowers and obliges both local authorities and building owners to be responsible for maintaining the “sound structural integrity of the property”. This includes regulatory enforcement of health and safety, conservation, waste, environmental policies, and more.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_Act_1984 https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/The_Building_Act https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/55

1985

1,866,000

Private Renters

10.3

% of total
properties

Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

building

Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 consolidates provisions from previous Housing Acts and related legislation, ultimately defining who is responsible for the upkeep and repair of a rented property. Section 11 of the Act specifically placed the onus on landlords (with short lease tenancies of less than seven years) to repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, as well as key features of the home such as water, gas, electricity, sanitation and heating.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landlord_and_Tenant_Act_1985 https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/housing_conditions/Contractual_rights_including_implied_terms/section_11_landlord_and_tenant_act_1985 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1985/70/section/11

1986

1,811,000

Private Renters

9.9

% of total
properties

Gas Act 1986

building

Gas Act 1986

The Gas Act 1986 was part of the Thatcher Government’s continued approach to privatising previously state-operated industries, an ideology aimed at increasing market competition and reducing costs for customers. In more recent times, its implications for landlords and tenants often revolve around the idea of “deemed contract relationships”. The legislation stipulates that where gas is supplied to any premises, a contract is deemed to have arisen (with the occupier) as soon as a customer moves into a property, continuing when the property is vacated (with the owner).

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/44/contentshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_Act_1986https://www.whitecollarlegalandadmin.com/the-gas-act-1986-the-normal-rules-of-contract-do-not-always-apply-avoid-being-served-with-a-statutory-demand/

1987

1,757,000

Private Renters

9.5

% of total
properties

Consumer Protection Act 1987

building

Consumer Protection Act 1987

This Act introduced consumer protection laws, allowing individuals to claim compensation for damage suffered as a result of faulty products. This enables landlords to make claims for property damage from things like bad brickwork, support beams or girders, while shifting responsibility to the “producer of the product” should tenants suffer any damage. Under secondary legislation - the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 - landlords would later be obligated to provide safety checks for electrical supply and equipment such as cookers, toasters, washing machines, etc. Failure to comply with Electrical Regulations in tenancies can be considered dereliction of duty, and a criminal offence.

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1987/43/contentshttps://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-protection-act-1987http://www.sorelectrical.co.uk/blog/what-are-landlords-legal-responsibilites-regarding-periodic-inspection-reports-or-landlord-electrical-certificates/

1988

1,702,000

Private Renters

9.1

% of total
properties

Housing Act 1988

building

Housing Act 1988

Sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988 outline most of the rights and regulations for both tenants and landlords. Introduced by Thatcher’s Conservative Government, it aimed to redress a balance of power which, at the time, was seen to favour tenants over landlords. Crucially, it codifies the grounds by which landlords can lawfully evict their tenants, commonly referenced in most tenancy agreements today. While theoretically it allows courts to make quicker judgments on repossessions, there are also a number of nuances and qualifications to the stipulated rules.

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/section/8https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/section/21https://www.gov.uk/evicting-tenants/section-21-and-section-8-noticeshttps://www.propertyinvestmentsuk.co.uk/housing-act-1988/

1989

1,743,000

Private Renters

9.2

% of total
properties

Electricity Act 1989

building

Electricity Act 1989

Similar in essence to the earlier Gas Act 1986, the Electricity Act of 1989 sought to privatise and liberalise the electricity supply industry in Great Britain, with direct impact in England and Wales particularly. Other than broadening options for electricity suppliers in properties and tenancies, the Act today has legal and financial implications regarding “deemed contracts” arising when customers enter and vacate rental premises.

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/29/contentshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_Act_1989https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2010/06/landlords-beware-deemed-contracts-with-electricity-suppliers?sc_lang=en

1990

1,783,000

Private Renters

9.3

% of total
properties

Environmental Protection Act 1990

building

Environmental Protection Act 1990

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 provided allowances for tenants to pursue prosecution of landlords where poor housing conditions are considered a “statutory nuisance” and/or “prejudicial to health”. Cases typically arise around properties where a “nuisance” results from emissions of smoke, fumes, and gases, or other factors such as damp, noise, light or waste levels impacting the local environment. The Act aims primarily to enable prosecution of the person responsible for the so-called nuisance. However, the owner of the premises is A) liable when the responsible party cannot be found, and B) obliged to perform inspections, with risk of receiving fixed penalties of £150 per confirmed contravention.

Sources

https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/housing_conditions/occupiers_remedies_for_statutory_nuisance https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/43/contents https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_Protection_Act_1990

1991

1,824,000

Private Renters

9.4

% of total
properties

1992

1,724,000

Private Renters

9

% of total
properties

1993

1,833,000

Private Renters

9.4

% of total
properties

1994

1,869,000

Private Renters

9.6

% of total
properties

1995

1,939,000

Private Renters

9.9

% of total
properties

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

building

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 made it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of an individual’s disability, regarding employment, provision of goods and services, education and transport. In relation to housing, the legislation protects the disabled and those with mental health difficulties from eviction and other actions which could jeopardise their health or safety. Significantly, the Act’s stipulations apply regardless of the landlord’s knowledge of their tenants’ disability. A potential side-effect is that landlords, even if they have a reasonable case for repossession of a property, can find it more difficult to evict disable tenants.

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1995/50/contentshttps://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/887/pdfs/uksiem_20060887_en.pdf

1996

1,995,000

Private Renters

10.1

% of total
properties

Housing Act 1996

building

Housing Act 1996

Affecting local authorities and landlords of social housing, more than the private rental sector, the Housing Act 1996 introduced new duties and obligations concerning provision of accommodation to the homeless or vulnerable. At the same time, the Act sought to provide expanded rights to landlords for seeking injunctions against anti-social tenants - especially where their behaviour impacts on housing and local neighbourhoods. If a tenant in this situation is found guilty of anti-social activity, a demotion order can be made which “demotes” a secure or assured tenancy, allowing for easier eviction.

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/52/contentshttps://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Housing_Act_1996http://www.problemneighbours.co.uk/housing-act-1996-explained.html

1997

2,078,000

Private Renters

10.5

% of total
properties

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

building

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

The aim of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is to broadly outlaw harassment of an individual, and protect victims of harassment. Targeted especially at “stalking” behaviour, the Act’s stipulations reach further into racial harassment, workplace harassment, and anti-social behaviour by neighbours. It is defined as “conduct that causes alarm of distress… on at least two occasions”, where the harasser “knows or ought to know” that their behaviour constitutes harassment. Local authorities are able to pursue and punish landlords, or their agents, deemed to be using harassment to pursue illegal eviction, in contravention of this law as well as the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Sources

https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/possession_proceedings_and_eviction/illegal_eviction_and_harassment/harassment_of_occupiers_by_a_landlord_or_agenthttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protection_from_Harassment_Act_1997

1998

2,063,000

Private Renters

10.3

% of total
properties

Gas Safety (Installation and use) Regulations 1998

building

Gas Safety (Installation and use) Regulations 1998

This Act built upon 1994 legislation, solidifying requirements that gas work, relating to gas supply installations and related appliances, be carried out by “competent” parties (those registered with the Gas Safe Register). The Act also confers upon landlords the responsibility to make sure gas appliances - including chimneys, flues, heaters, cookers and other fittings - are checked and confirmed to be working. As a result, landlords must supply a copy of their Gas Safety Record to tenants within 28 days of the annual gas safety inspection. As failure to comply with regulations can impact tenants’ wellbeing, dereliction of duty can lead to penalties including fines and imprisonment.

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/2451/contents/madehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_Safety_(Installation_and_Use)_Regulations_1998 https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/renting-a-property/information-for-landlords/

1999

2,000,000

Private Renters

9.9

% of total
properties

2000

2,028,000

Private Renters

10

% of total
properties

Building Regulations 2000

building

Building Regulations 2000

Imposed on the construction industry in England and Wales, the Building Regulations of 2000 were an expansion on the precedents set by the Building Act 1984. Currently, the Building Regulations 2010 represent the latest version. Detailed in Approved Documents are numerous requirements covering a range of aspects of a property. These include materials, structure, safety, ventilation, sanitation, and accessibility, as well as methods for approval, enforcement and exceptions. Also pertaining to modifications to an existing building, landlords must be aware of their regulatory obligations, to reduce the risk of putting tenants in danger and facing fines or even prosecution.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_Regulations_2000https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_regulations_in_the_United_Kingdom https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2000/2531/madehttps://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Building_regulations

2001

2,061,000

Private Renters

10.1

% of total
properties

2002

2,131,000

Private Renters

10.3

% of total
properties

2003

2,234,000

Private Renters

10.8

% of total
properties

2004

2,283,000

Private Renters

11

% of total
properties

Housing Act 2004

building

Housing Act 2004

The Housing Act 2004 introduced a number of important regulations for landlords to consider. This included stronger regulation of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), now requiring a licence from local authorities for properties with five or more residents. Additionally, the foundation for tenancy deposit schemes came into force, a framework for the “good practice” of managing and disputing rental deposits. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) also revised the standards for suitable rental accommodation, placing greater responsibility on landlords to assess and remove risks to health and safety in their properties. Home Information Packs, a now-retired concept, phased out in 2007, were also established.

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/contentshttps://www.dartford.gov.uk/by-category/housing2/housing/private-sector-housing/houses-in-multiple-occupancy/landlords-guide-to-the-housing-act-2004 https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/housing_conditions/housing_health_and_safety_rating_system/powers_and_duties_of_enforcement

2005

2,445,000

Private Renters

11.7

% of total
properties

2006

2,565,000

Private Renters

12.2

% of total
properties

2007

2,691,000

Private Renters

12.7

% of total
properties

2008

2,982,000

Private Renters

13.9

% of total
properties

2008-09

3,067,000

Private Renters

14.2

% of total
properties

2009-10

3,355,000

Private Renters

15.6

% of total
properties

2010-11

3,617,000

Private Renters

16.5

% of total
properties

Equality Act 2010

building

Equality Act 2010

This Act consolidates stipulations from a wide array of prior anti-discrimination legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Simply, it defines the characteristics against which an individual cannot be discriminated. Relating specifically to letting and selling of property, Part 4 outlines which characteristics cannot be factored in by landlords, or agents, when making decisions on renting, eviction and other matters. It is also through this law that providers of “goods, services or facilities” (including landlords) are obliged to make “reasonable adjustments” to a property’s physical features, if a disabled occupier successfully argues that not doing so would put them at a “substantial disadvantage”.

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contentshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_Act_2010https://shepwedd.com/knowledge/equality-act-2010-its-effect-property-owners-and-occupiershttps://www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance

2011-12

3,843,000

Private Renters

17.4

% of total
properties

2012-13

3,956,000

Private Renters

18

% of total
properties

Deposit Protection of Tenants Monies 2007 (Revised 2012)

building

Deposit Protection of Tenants Monies 2007 (Revised 2012)

In 2012, the Government introduced revisions to the deposit protection schemes which came into force by law in 2007. The timeframe in which landlords were required to submit their tenants’ deposit to a scheme increased from 14 to 30 days. At the same time, tenants were given the legal right to sue in the event of a landlord not returning their deposit monies. While affording landlords more time and flexibility to manage deposits, it also instituted the prospect of fines up to three times the deposit value, should a landlord be successfully sued for failure to comply with the law.

Sources

https://www.pims.co.uk/deposits_2004_housing_act/https://www.tenancydepositscheme.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Tenancy-Deposit-Protection-A-guide-to-the-legislation.pdf

2013-14

4,377,000

Private Renters

19.4

% of total
properties

Local Government Finance Act 2012: Council Tax Exemptions

building

Local Government Finance Act 2012: Council Tax Exemptions

Under changes made by the Local Government Finance Act 2012, from April 2013 it became law for local authorities to alter council tax discounts for second homes and empty properties. Second homes, previously with a maximum council tax rate of 90%, could now be charged 100%. “Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished” properties could be charged anywhere between 0% and 100%, at the discretion of the local council. The ultimate end result is the removal of exemptions for unoccupied and unfurnished premises, and properties undergoing major structural alterations, largely making council tax fully payable during between-let periods and refurbishments.

Sources

https://aff.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/20130304-council_tax-u2.pdf https://www.landlordsguild.com/council-tax-discount-on-second-homes-and-long-term-empty-properties/https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/694646/Higher_amount_for_long-term_empty_dwellings_factsheet.pdf

2014-15

4,278,000

Private Renters

19

% of total
properties

2015-16

4,528,000

Private Renters

19.9

% of total
properties

Deregulation Act 2015 (and Revision)
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

building

The Deregulation Act came into law in March and was later revised in October 2015. Initially, the Act aimed to update rules and remove uncertainties around tenancy deposit schemes, in addition to obliging landlords to provide Energy Performance and Gas Safety certificates to tenants. Revisions in October 2015 introduced a clearer set of procedures surrounding Section 21 notices. The revisions also sought to protect tenants against retaliatory evictions, should they raise legitimate complaints about a property’s condition. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations mandated landlords to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in their properties.

The Deregulation Act came into law in March and was later revised in October 2015. Initially, the Act aimed to update rules and remove uncertainties around tenancy deposit schemes, in addition to obliging landlords to provide Energy Performance and Gas Safety certificates to tenants. Revisions in October 2015 introduced a clearer set of procedures surrounding Section 21 notices. The revisions also sought to protect tenants against retaliatory evictions, should they raise legitimate complaints about a property’s condition. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations simply mandated landlords to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in their properties.

Sources

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/20/contents/enactedhttps://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2015/9780111133439/contentshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deregulation_Act_2015

2016-17

4,692,000

Private Renters

20.3

% of total
properties

Finance Bill 2016: Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), Wear and Tear Allowance
Immigration Act 2016: Right to Rent

building

Finance Bill 2016: Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), Wear and Tear Allowance
Immigration Act 2016: Right to Rent

The Finance Bill 2016 applied a 3% surcharge on Stamp Duty Land Tax rates for buy-to-let properties and additional homes. Consequently, all secondary properties bought would entail increased costs for landlords seeking to expand their portfolio. The Act also exchanged the 10% annual wear and tear allowance for a new system to cover replacement costs only. The Immigration Act 2016 was introduced in the same year, bringing about the concept of ‘right to rent’. This legally required private landlords to conduct background checks into potential tenants from outside of the United Kingdom. Ultimately, the legislation involved using private rental sector procedure as a measure against illegal immigration

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stamp_duty_in_the_United_Kingdom#Stamp_Duty_Land_Taxhttps://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/housing_options/private_rented_accommodation/right_to_rent_immigration_checks https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-higher-rates-of-stamp-duty-land-tax-sdlt-on-purchases-of-additional-residential-properties/higher-rates-of-stamp-duty-land-tax-sdlt-on-purchases-of-additional-residential-properties

2017-18

4,530,000

Private Renters

19.5

% of total
properties

2018-19

4,552,000

Private Renters

19.3

% of total
properties

Minimum Energy Efficiency Rating (MEES)
01 April 2018

building

Minimum Energy Efficiency Rating (MEES)
01 April 2018

Bringing into effect stipulations made by the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England Wales) Regulations of 2015, it from April 2018 it became unlawful to rent either residential or commercial properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below ‘E’. The requirement effectively forces landlords to ensure that properties reach a minimum modern standard of energy efficiency, reducing the possibility to profit from poor quality premises. All new leases became immediately subject to these requirements, with a deadline of universal enforcement expected from April 1st 2023.

Sources

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidancehttps://nexusenergysolutions.co.uk/mees-what-are-minimum-energy-efficiency-standardshttps://www.ricsfirms.com/glossary/minimum-energy-efficiency-standard/