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Proposal for landlords to join a Redress Scheme

The Government has announced proposals for all UK landlords to join a redress scheme. Landlords who fail to join this scheme will face fines of up to £5,000.

James Brokenshire, the current Housing Minister, wishes to create a new housing complaints resolution service, where disputes between landlords and tenants can be resolved. This would be on the understanding that all other avenues have been exhausted.

This proposal is running parallel with the recent Homes(Fitness for Human Habitation)Act 2018, which has now given tenants new powers to sue landlords should their accommodation not meet basic health and hygiene standards.

The idea of the scheme is for tenants and landlords to resolve a dispute that has arisen as a result of a defect, or issue in their property, which would render it unsafe, uninhabitable, or unhygienic.

At this stage, the redress scheme legislation is still a proposal, but it is expected to become law in the future.

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Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 allows Tenants to sue landlords over the condition of their property

What is the new law?

On 20 March 2019, a new law came into force to make sure that rented houses and flats are ‘fit for human habitation’, which means that they are safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm.

Most landlords ensure that their rented properties are safe and secure, warm and dry, but some landlords do not, and as a result, some tenants are forced to live in dangerous or unhealthy conditions.

This new law was designed to fully protect tenants and will enable them to start speaking up; the potential downside is it could force many landlords to sell, or even deter potential property investors from buying.

What does this new law mean for a landlord?

If rented houses and flats are not ‘fit for human habitation’, tenants can take their landlords to court. The court can force the landlord to carry out repairs or rectify health and safety issues. The court can also force the landlord to pay compensation to the tenant.

As a landlord, it is crucial that you keep your properties in top condition and respond quickly to any issues reported by your tenants

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2018 legislative changes

A round up of recent legislative changes affecting the rental sector:

How to Rent Guide

The How to Rent Guide was updated on the 26th June 2018 and it is important that landlords and letting agencies who have let properties or renewed leases since this date, ensure that they have issued the correct version. Failure to do so could mean that landlords are unable to evict tenants using a section 21 notice. This new How to Rent Guide has a different subtitle.  It is now known as: ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’. It was updated to reflect the tenants fee ban and the upcoming changes to HMO licensing.

Licensing for HMOs

From 1st October 2018 there were significant changes to the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) for landlords.  The change means that any HMO occupied by 5 or more individuals (not all related to one another) will require an HMO licence

There are also minimum room sizes for any rooms being used as a bedroom.  The minimum room sizes are:

  • 4.64㎡ for any room in which one child under the age of 10 sleeps
  • 6.51㎡ for any room in which one person over the age of 10 sleeps
  • 10.22㎡ for any room in which two people over the age of 10 sleep

If any room is smaller than 4.64㎡, it cannot be used as a bedroom and the landlord must inform the local authority

New Eviction Rules

From 1st October 2018, the Deregulation Act 2015 changed the way that a Section 21 notice can be used to end a tenancy, but it was limited to tenancies agreed on or after 1 Oct 2015,  However from October 2018, this was extended to ALL tenancies.  This means that:

  • A Section 21 notice cannot be issued during the first four months of a tenancy (although this doesn’t apply to renewals)
  • The notice is only valid for six months from the date on which it was issued.  If you don’t follow up with proceedings within six months, you will have to re-issue the Section 21 notice
  • If a tenant makes a legitimate complaint about your property and they aren’t dealt with, the tenant can contact the Local Authority with their issue. If the Local Authority then issue a notice of improvement, then you will need to complete the improvement works before you’re allowed to issue a Section 21 notice, otherwise it is not valid.

EPC changes

From April 2018, all properties with new tenancies and renewals will have to have at least an ‘E’ rating on their Energy Performance Certificate.  Landlords who don’t meet this requirement could receive a fine of up to £5,000.  This requirement will be rolled out to all tenancies in the next two years.

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