Commercial and local authority landlords could benefit from urgently reviewing their legal options.
For all private landlords (including housing associations but excluding local authorities) – there is help in Part 3 to tackle abandoned premises potentially without court proceedings.
- Landlords can end an assured shorthold tenancy on giving a tenant a notice - tenancy then ends that day.
- 3 warning notices need to have been served beforehand – 3rd being fixed to a conspicuous part of the property.
- The tenant must have 8 consecutive weeks (or 2 months if monthly) rent arrears.
- There is a procedure for the tenant to apply to seek reinstatement in court.
- This won’t help with abandoned properties where housing benefit pays the rent but will prove very useful otherwise. Time to update the abandonment policy and procedure…
Pay to Stay – known as High Income Social tenants (HISTs) – Part 4 chapter 3
- All the detail that was the subject of extensive debate in Parliament (the income level triggers, what counts as household income, annual increase of the trigger levels etc) are to be found in regulations yet to be published.
- Remains mandatory for local authorities and optional for housing associations but if a housing association chooses to have a policy then it must publish it (section 89).
The Act introduces a range of penalties for “rogue” landlords and property agents in Part 2
- Banning orders – banning a person from being a landlord if they have been convicted of particular offences.
- Rent repayment orders (RRO) – a tenant or a local authority can apply to the First Tier Tribunal for an RRO if the landlord has committed various offences, which include failure to comply with a Housing Act 2004 improvement or prohibition notice or illegal eviction. The RRO is then recoverable as a debt.
Huge changes for local authorities with the introduction of new secure tenancies in Part 4 chapter 6 - old secure tenancies now aptly called “old style secure tenancies”
- All new secure tenancies must be fixed-term tenancies of between 2 and 10 years, though the maximum period is extended (where a child aged under 9 will live in the property) to the day the child reaches 19.
- Review processes introduced to challenge the length of the fixed term offered and to review the decision made on whether to grant a new tenancy to the end of the fixed term.
- Succession changes – any succession (other than to a spouse or partner) granted under the tenancy agreement e.g. to a family member – will take effect after “vesting” as a fixed-term tenancy of 5 years. No more succession to lifetime tenancies unless it’s a spouse or partner successor.
Electrical safety – Part 5
Regulations (awaited) can impose duties on private landlords of residential premises to ensure electrical safety standards are met. Regulations will imply terms into a tenancy so a tenant or Local authority can enforce them.
For more information
Please contact Helen Tucker
The Cabinet Office has published guidance asking for people to act responsibly, fairly and “in the national interest”.
To help our charity clients look to the future, we summarise key guidance and updates over the last week.
On 18 May 2020, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) wrote to all social housing residents in England (residents).
For anyone who is currently restrained from holding their General Meeting or have held such in breach of their governing documents, help is on the way!
Social landlords may be surprised to learn that “landlords should be able to carry out routine as well as essential repairs for most households”.
Many housing providers are now re-thinking about gathering information to complete their data return to the Regulator of Social Housing, with the initial exercise having been delayed by Covid-19.
With many premises being left unoccupied (or minimally occupied) during the lockdown, both Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive have warned of the increased risks of Legionella.
The Court of Appeal judgement in Booth and another v R  EWCA Crim 575 will be welcome news for local authority prosecutors and their investigation teams.
The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on 4 April.
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