26 Sep Legal Update for Landlords from ARLA Propertymark Regional Meeting
Megan and I attended the ARLA Propertymark regional meeting yesterday. It was well attended with some excellent speakers including The Property Ombudsman (Katrine Sporle) who gave us an overview of how the redress scheme deals with complaints and also Robert Bolwell from Dutton Gregory solicitors who gave us our usual legal update.
We thought we’d share some of the points raised by Robert Bolwell here for you…
What’s happening now…
The Housing and Planning Act 2016
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 gave new powers to local authorities, from April of last year, meaning that they can now fine landlords and agents up to £30,000 for breaches of housing law and keep the money – it is no longer fed back into central government. Local authorities now have a bigger incentive to police rogue landlords and rogue agents.
This April the Act also introduced banning orders for landlords and agents for several offences including illegal eviction or harassment of tenants, using violence to enter a property and breaches of an HMO licence (House in multiple occupation). The rouge landlords/agents database is now live and accessible to all local authorities. In London the database is public.
The Act has also introduced some changes to HMO licensing. There are currently two types of HMO licenses. Selective licensing (where a council imposes licensing on certain areas) and additional licensing (currently for, generally speaking, houses in multiple occupation over two storeys). From 1st October 2018 the over two storey rule will be removed meaning that any house where there are 5 or more occupiers living in two or more separate households will become subject to mandatory licensing. There are also stipulations on minimum room sizes for HMO’s and for waste provisions. So, if you have any properties let to sharers, you must ensure that there are no more than 5 occupiers and apply for a license if you do. And, note, occupiers do include children so if you have two couples sharing and one child your house will now be classed as an HMO and subject to mandatory licensing. The fines for not adhering are prohibitive and, as already mentioned, this could be a money spinner for your local authority so it’s something that they are very likely to pursue.
If you’d like to know a bit more of the detail :-
Tenant Fees Ban Update
The Tenant Fees Ban Bill is making its way through parliament without objection from any political party. What’s certain is that tenant fees will be banned at some point next year and unless a fee or charge is noted in the Act, it will not be possible to charge it to a tenant. What’s not clear yet is exactly what fees will be banned. Here are some of the items noted as chargeable as things stand:-
- Security deposit of no more than 6 weeks rent
- Holding fee of no more than 1 weeks rent
- Default payment – likely to be capped at £50 or the Landlord will need to prove costs
- Termination of contract – will need to be linked to financial loss of the landlord
- Council tax
- Utility connection
- Green Deal
- Television licence
- Communication services
Right to Rent Challenge
There is a judicial review of the Right to Rent policy set for December. It seems that the controversial policy has, in some cases, led to unintended discrimination where landlords feel obliged only let to people with a British Passport. The challenge is being led by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Bill
This private member’s Bill is seeking to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require that all residential rented dwellings in England are fit for human habitation at the start of the tenancy and throughout. The Bill’s Report stage is set for 26 October 2018.
Sublet Property (Offences) Bill
Another private member’s Bill, this time looking to prevent the sub-letting of property and to provide criminal sanctions.
Compulsory Client Money Protection
As from April of next year all letting agents must have client money protection. All ARLA Propertymark agents have this as part of their membership.
Section 21 Notices
The prescribed form is the only form effective from 1st October 2018.
Watch this space….
Some other bits and pieces that the government have announced or are considering are:
- Electrical checks to be mandatory for landlords
- Licensing of Agents
- Landlords to be required to join a Redress Scheme
- Introduction of Housing Courts
- Changes to Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm legislation
Our next meeting is scheduled for February/March time next year …. So watch this space for the next update.
In the meantime, if you have any lettings related queries please do get in touch – we’d love to get to know you.
Emma Macgregor MARLA
PS: If you are looking for a ‘smart let’ (www.robinsonreade.co.uk/quick-let-or-smart-let/) call us today on 01489 579009 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for honest, expert and friendly advice.