In a literally last minute move, and as the industry entered an era of huge change, the Government waited until 60 seconds before the fees ban came in before it issued the final and vital paperwork.
It published the correct prescribed legal form in relation to serving Section 21 at one minute to midnight on Friday – 60 seconds before the fees ban became law, and one minute before the new form 6a became the mandatory form of Section 21 notice.
The new How to Rent guide was itself issued only hours earlier on Friday afternoon. ARLA was able to notify its members at about 4.30pm, having been in contact with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government throughout the day.
At that point there was no new form 6a, with ARLA issuing advice to its members at about 8.30am on Saturday that it had been finally issued.
Such to-the-wire publication may mean that a number of agents are still unaware that there is a new How to Rent guide and a new Section 21 legal form which must be used.
How to Rent guides are regularly updated and the latest version must always be served to new tenants and those who renew their tenancies. If the latest version is not given to tenants, then a Section 21 notice cannot be served or may be invalidated.
The new Form 6a specifies that a Section 21 notice cannot be served if a prohibited payment has been taken from a tenant, under the new Tenant Fees Act.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has given no explanation as to why the new How to Rent guide was issued so late, and why the new Section 21 form was not released until 11.59pm on Friday night.
The lateness of publication means that a number of agents may not have not been able to update their software systems and it will also have put pressure on software providers.
Meanwhile a statement from Housing Secretary James Brokenshire on Saturday said that the ban would save renters across England £240m a year, with Brokenshire saying that tenants would no longer be “stung” by unreasonable costs from agents and landlords.
As ARLA chief executive David Cox put in a busy weekend on media, the organisation made no secret of its feelings about the lateness of the paperwork.
ARLA said: “We continue to make the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government aware that updates must be rolled out well in advance of legislative changes.”
The latest How to Rent is at the link below and this is the version that must now be served.
There still appears to be reference to NALS, which last week changed its name to safeagent – suggesting that yet another new update will be needed very soon.