Law can be very complex and a superficial reading of it can be dangerous. For some months we have been working on the effect of the Deregulation Act 2015 when we get to October 2018. Section 41, dealing with the transitional provisions, states that section 33-38 and 40 come into force for pre-October 2015 tenancies from 1 October 2018. This is what we are all expecting.
However, it is not as simple as this. Section 33 and 34 deal with retaliatory evictions, and these will come into force on the 1 October 2018 for tenancies created before 1 October 2015.
Section 35 deals with the periodic notice not needing to expire at the end of a period of the tenancy. This will come into force for all assured shortholds from 1 October 2018. Section 36 deals with not serving in the first four months and though technically it will apply, it will have no practical effect.
Section 40 deals with the requirement for a pro rata rent refund if the section 21 notice expires part way through a period for which rent has been paid. This will apply to pre-October 2015 tenancies from 1 October 2018.
Section 41, the transitional provisions, specifically exclude section 39 from ever applying to the pre-October 2015 tenancies and as this is the requirement to give the How to Rent Guide, this makes sense.
The tricky bit is sections 37 and 38 as both of these are "prescribed" items. 37 is the prescribed form, Form 6A, and 38 is the prescribed legal requirements (currently gas and EPC). The important thing with these is that the regulations that prescribe these two things start by saying the regulations only apply to post October 2015 tenancies, therefore excluding all the pre-October 2015 tenancies. We have been in dialogue with MHCLG about this for some months, even suggesting how to edit the Form 6A (which specifically says it doe snot apply to pre-October 2015 tenancies), and how they might edit the regulations. With Parliament in recess and little legislation being passed in September when the party conference season is on, time was running out to resolve this. We have now been told that there is no intention that the Form 6A and gas/EPC requirements will apply to pre-October 2015 tenancies come October 2018. This is something of a change in understanding and will bring its own confusion. Much as many agents are expecting the changes to apply to pre-October 2015 tenancies from October 2018, so are many solicitors and probably judges too. It will be important for agents to be able to explain why they do not apply (because the regulations say they don't apply) if it is questions in court or by the local authority.