The end of the line for housing projects?
The Legal Action Magazine section on recent developments in housing law has some interesting notes on what is going on, and I was particularly interested to see the reference to a Ministry of Justice report on the implementation of past Law Commission projects.
Here are some extracts about those Law Commission projects which particularly affected housing and landlord and tenant law, with a few notes from me in brackets. The numbers are the paragraph numbers in the report:
Proposals which have not yet been implemented
(But presumably will be sometime)
Unfair Terms in Contracts
18. The present law on unfair contract terms is covered by two pieces of UK legislation which are confusing and contain inconsistent and overlapping provisions.
19. This report, which was a joint Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission report, was accepted in principle by the previous Government in 2006. Implementation of the Commissions’ recommendations is on hold pending negotiation of the draft EU Consumer Rights Directive. Negotiations on the Directive are expected to conclude in late-2011.
Termination of Tenancies
24. This report examined the means whereby a landlord can take back a property let to a tenant because the tenant has not complied with his or her obligations under the lease. This is an issue of great practical importance for many landlords and tenants of residential and commercial properties. The current law is difficult to use and littered with pitfalls for both the lay person and the unwary practitioner.
25. The Government is undertaking work to study and consider this report and aims to respond early this year.
(This will not affect assured shorthold tenancies where forfeiture is specifically prohibited by the legislation, but may be relevant for common law tenancies and protected tenancies under the Rent Act 1977).
Decisions taken not to implement
(Ie where the work of the Law Commission is effectively wasted, and they might just as well not have bothered)
Landlord and Tenant: Responsibility for State and Condition of Property
46. This report examined the law regulating the responsibilities of landlord and tenant for the repair and maintenance of leased premises. The law is unsatisfactory as there is no acceptable standard which has to be met by leased premise, there is no legal requirement that the responsibility for the repair of the property should be specifically allocated, and the remedies for the enforcement of repairing obligations were not always effective to ensure that the necessary repairs were carried out.
47. The Government does not consider that the problems with the law in this area are sufficient to require legislative intervention. There are no current plans, therefore, to implement the proposals contained within this report.
Housing: Encouraging Responsible Letting and Renting Homes: The Final Report.
The report made recommendations to strengthen self-regulation of landlords in the private rented sector, and introduce compulsory regulation for letting agents. The Law Commission recommended that a scheme of “enforced self-regulation” should be introduced if self-regulation failed to drive up housing standards in the sector.
56. Whilst some of the proposals contained within these reports were accepted in principle by the previous Government, given that reform of this area of the law is not in line with the current Government’s deregulatory priorities, the Government currently has no plans to implement the Law Commission’s recommendations by amending the regulations governing private landlords or letting agents or by further regulating the sector. The Government is, however, exploring with partners from the industry how best to counter poor practice by letting and managing agents and will keep the matter under consideration.
No doubt some faithful readers will have a few comments on all this. I feel particularly sad about the Renting Homes project as SUCH a lot of work went into that, and there was a massive consultation exercise. All for nothing.
You can see the MOJ report here. The Renting Homes and other housing related projects can be see on the Law Commission website. Incidentally they don’t seem to have mentioned the report on proportionate dispute resolution.