Landlord Law Blog looks back at 2010

sunsetThe time between Christmas and the New Year is a time for reflection on the past before moving forward into the future.

This has been a good year for the Landlord Law Blog. Here are a few of my favorite posts.

January

January saw a report of a dramatic price rise from tenancy deposit company TDS and a report of one of the largest awards from an unfair eviction case that I have ever seen .

NightstopMy charity of the month was Nightstop, a charity suggested by one of my Landlord Law members.

February

February saw the start of a new series over on my new Lodger Landlord site – 21 days of tips – day by day guide for people taking a lodger into their homes. I reported on this on the Landlord Law blog, but you can see a complete index on the Lodger Landlord site here.

On 3 February there was a big announcement from the then Labour government about its intentions for the private rented sector – the most sensible being the increase of the AST rent limit to £100,000 and the most bonkers one being the suggestion of a ‘tripadvisor’ type website for tenants. No prizes for guessing which one eventually made it onto the statute book.

February also saw the end of the long running Foxtons litigation when Foxtons finally came up with a form of words for their agency agreement which the Office of Fair Trading found acceptable.

actionaid sponsor a childMy charity of the month was Action Aid sponsor a child.

March

March saw the start of two new developments for the Landlord Law Blog. First there was my Notable Property Persons series which began with a bang with David Salusbury, Chairman of the National Landlords Association. You can see all the NPPs here. Second, we had the first post from Ben Reeve Lewis, who is now an important part of the Landlord Law Blog.

I also got out my soapbox to talk about Legal aid and did the first of several posts on the shocking case arising from landlord Mike Billings‘ casual treatment of health and safety in his Crisis - supporting homeless single peopleproperties.

Charity of the month was Crisis.

April

The TDS fee increase post I did earlier had been attracting quite a few comments so I did a summary post here to bring people up to date. The new HMO planning changes which had been announced earlier came into force, much to the annoyance of most HMO landlords.

We had a great guest blog from Ben on how insurance can be invalidated by trivial criminal convictions, some Landlord Law members told us about renting to students in London and Plymouth, and I looked Amnesty Internationalinto Utilities and the Data Protection Act.

Charity of the month was Amnesty International.

May

Throughout the whole of May I had a daily series on tenancy agreements. You can see the index here

Unlock - help for ex offendersDue to the tenancy agreement series, there were not a lot of other posts, although I did do a couple on the Billings case.

Charity of the month was Unlock.

June

May had seen the change from a Labour government to a ConDem coalition, and they did not lose much time in telling us what they were going to do in the private rented sector. Or rather what they were not going to do. Although they did promise to change Labours unpopular HMO planning regulations.

Having done the Lodger series and then the tenancy agreement series, I was on a bit of a roll, and started a seven part weekly series on court hearings on Saturdays.  I also nominated Saturdays to be my day for non housing law posts, to be called the Saturday slot.

A reader wrote in with a problem about lack of paperwork and asked how this Law Centres Federationaffects tenancy deposits, and I let out the secret of writing effective legal letters.

Charity of the month was the Law Centres Federation.

July

July saw the conclusion of my court hearings series and you can see the usual index here.

Ben Reeve Lewis got out his soapbox for a rant about true cost of government reforms and I wondered why housing law has to be so complicated.

A very popular post in the stats is this one is on locks, keys and tenants rights, and we were all pleased to see the Police finally brought to account in an unlawful eviction case.

I announced a new no win no fee service for tenants for tenancy deposit claims and also started doing Monday posts on help for tenants, beginning Help for Heroeswith a post on rent increases.

Charity of the month was Help for Heroes.

August

August saw me looking at whether advance payments for rent could be used instead of deposits (and getting some very interesting comments) and also looking at landlord responsibilities and what being a landlord really means.

August also saw the landlord living in a tent case  where I appeared on the BBC. Meantime Ben enlightened landlords on the meaning of harassment.

A very popular Saturday slot item in the stats is this post on without prejudice, as is this (although not a Saturday slot) one on tenancy deposit answers to questions. I also wrote about the new Free Legal Web project Kalayaan(which this blog supports).

Charity of the month was Kalayaan.

September

In September we said happy 25th birthday to the excellent housing law series in LAG magazine, and saw the start of Ben’s acclaimed series TRO Confidential with the case of the bad tempered woman.

We had an interesting online discussion about gas safety checks and whether landlords could gain access to do them without the tenants permission.

I asked ‘What is the common law?’ and also ‘Do landlords need to disclose their home address?’, in response to Bens post here, and also wrote about why changing the law on eviction won’t help landlords.

Finally I did a post on the forthcoming legal change on 1 October of the high rent level of ASTs greenpeaceto £100,000.

Charity of the month was Greenpeace UK.

October

I looked into whether landlords are liable for their tenants internet misuse (and discovered a lot of interesting stuff) and also whether you can have more than four tenants on one tenancy agreement. I also took a topical look at housing benefit and ethnic cleansing.

Two popular NPP interviews this week were with Sarah Beeney and our own Ben Reeve Lewis. This was also the month for one of my favourite TRO Confidentials – Victim supportthe case of the unwanted Christmas present.

Charity of the month was Victim Support.

November

I take a look at the squatters urban myth and that old chestnut, tenants staying a long time in a property getting extra rights. My Monday help for tenants posts include suggested courses of action for tenants if their local authority won’t help them.

Ben writes what has to be one of the funniest posts on the blog – the case of the legalised burglar but gets more serious when explaining why homelessness units wait for a possession order.

One of the biggest cases of the year affecting the private rented sector has to be the Tiensia case which created a massive Judges dilemma on the interpretation of the tenancy deposit legislation.  This led me to question why we can’t have plain English for laws.

I ask whether a landlord should allow his tenants to run a business from his rented property, and give some advice to tenants on what to do about illegal eviction.

December

So the year has come full circle and here we are in December, just about to start a new January. The biggest event of December for me personally has to be the launch of my new web-site Landlord Law (a project which has taken most of the year).

This has allowed me to advise landlords how they can evict tenants on a shoestring  and also let tenants know that Landlord Law is not just for landlords.

I also took a look at the law and explained the difference between civil and criminal law and did a short series on the financial aspects of possession proceedings.

Ben Reeve Lewis inevitably arrived at the case of the case (and why it is always worth giving it a go) and wondered what they were all thinking of with housing benefit and LHA.

Some changes

Things are changing in Landlord Law and I have decided to end two series. One of these is the Notable Property Persons series – I am beginning to run out of people to feature so I am leaving this for a bit. I may resurrect it later though, and also have plans for a similar but slightly different series using similar questions.

The other series I am ending is the charity of the month. I have been doing this for two years now and again, I am beginning to run out of suitable charities to feature.

Housing Action - voidless lettingsSo both November and December are without a charity of the month.  However there is one charity,  Housing Action, which I wrote about in January but which has never been a charity of the month, and so I nominate them to be a joint charity of the month for November and December.

Into the future

So the year 2011 beckons, all shiny and new. There are a lot of good things to look forward to, and I personally am very excited about the future. I have my new Landlord Law web-site to play with, and lots and lots of ideas.

But there are many problems facing us in 2011. The continuing fallout from the credit crunch. The reduction in (and lets face it, near destruction of) legal aid. The new housing benefit regulations, and general tough times.

In the legal profession we have the Legal Services Act coming into force in October, bringing changes in the delivery of legal services, which is both worrying or exciting for lawyers depending on your point of view. I think it is all quite exciting and in any event it looks as if there will plenty to write about.

But whatever the new year brings I hope you will find good things in it, some joy, some happiness, and some peace of mind. See you in 2011!

Photo by Elsie esq

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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google



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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.


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