Another week another Newsround. But first I want to remind you about some important dates which are creeping closer and closer:
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard
Amazingly it appears that many landlords are still unaware of these new rules coming into force on the 1st April. If one of those landlords is you, note that from that date:
- Any new properties rented out must have a minimum energy efficiency performance rating of ‘E’ on its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC),, and
- From 1 April 2020 ALL tenancies must have this.
There are some exemptions but basically if you have not done anything about this you need to get your finger out.
A ridiculous database
Also coming into force on 1 April is the government’s new database of bad letting agents and landlords and the introduction of banning orders for the worst offenders (which Ben wrote about here).
However, the database will only be available to Council officials, not the public. David Cox, the CEO of ARLA criticised this saying
“This is a truly ridiculous piece of legislation.
“What is the point of banning people when no one will know who’s been banned?
“We were very supporting of the concept – we want to see the eradication of bad letting agents and landlords. But how will this help?
“A public list would protect consumers. This won’t.”
The same article also discusses the new minimum room sizes coming into force at the same time, which Cox also criticised saying:
“Older properties often have box rooms, which are used as bedrooms and are often cheaper to rent.
“If box rooms cannot be used as bedrooms, there will be fewer tenants in shared accommodation and so they will have to pay more.”
GDPR deadline on 25 May
I wrote about this earlier this week here, but you may also be interested in this post on Property Industry Eye where the Information Commissioner debunks some scaremongering myths.
But again, this is a serious change in the law and you need to be informed and prepare for it.
Howard Davies v Scott – a tenancy deposit case
A country Court case (reported on Nearly Legal) where a landlord was ordered to pay the full 3x the deposit penalty to the tenants – so is worth reading for that alone.
However, the Judge was not altogether on the site of the tenants as she refused their claim that a second award of the penalty fall due when the tenancy became periodic:
The Judge accepted the proposition that the periodic tenancy arising at the end of a fixed term was a new tenancy (section 5 Housing Act 1988 and Superstrike Ltd. v. Rodrigues (2013) EWCA Civ 669) but disagreed with submissions that a second penalty was payable when the statutory tenancy arose in April 2015. She referred to section 214 of the Housing Act 2004 which refers to “a penalty, a tenancy and a deposit” in the singular, and noted that the opportunity to clarify the point in the Deregulation Act amendments to Housing Act 2004, after Superstrike, had not been taken.
Which will be welcome news for many landlords. However Nearly Legal disagrees with the decision and in the comments, there is a list of other country court cases where the Judges took a different view.
It would be good if someone could take this issue to the Court of Appeal so the matter could be settled once and for all.
I expect you have already seen reports on the news that as well as having inferior cladding, the tower also had inadequate fire doors which have now been shown to be half as fire resistant as they were supposed to be.
However, you may have missed the report about Leilani Farha, the UN special rapporteur, who believes that the UK government may have failed to comply with its international human rights obligations.
Farha, who said her visit was not to make a formal assessment of Grenfell, said she was concerned that survivors and local residents had been stereotyped and discriminated against on the basis that they lived in social housing. This meant they may have been treated less as people with human rights, and more as objects of charity.
“Residents told me they feel the government’s position is that they should feel lucky that they are going to be rehoused and that they should feel lucky that they had social housing. That doesn’t suggest residents feel the government recognises them as rights holders.
“The fact that so many residents have said to me they are not being treated as human beings is suggestive of a society that is structured in a way where those in social housing are viewed perhaps as counting less. And that is deeply troubling.”
I suspect that she is correct in her views, but whether anything will ever be done about it is another matter. For example, no doubt large numbers of the hapless residents still need to be rehoused despite all the promises made at the time of the fire to rehouse them quickly.
Section 21 too difficult?
There is a report on Property Industry Eye today saying that there has been a drop in the number of section 21 claims, at least by eviction specialists Landlord Action, because the procedure has become too complex and time-consuming.
Many landlords, having failed to inform themselves of the rules at the time of renting the property, are finding that they a not able to use the section 21 procedure because they have failed to set the tenancy up properly. Either they have failed to protect their tenancy or they have failed to serve the gas safety certificate or EPC.
If they are renting their own property or require it back to live in themselvees, a more straightforward procedure would be ground 1 but of course, most landlords will have failed to serve that notice too,
NB Landlords wanting guidance on eviction will find some help here.
Is the housing crisis driven by immigration?
Whatever you think about the Spectator this article has some worrying figures which if true go to show that immigration is much greater and is having more effect that many of our news services are prepared to say.
For example, an increase of 1.7 million more residents in Greater London in two decades is a lot of people to absorb.
I don’t have any objection to immigrants per se – like probably everyone else in this country I have at least some immigrants in my ancestry, and we all know how important they are for jobs in farming and the NHS. However, if the Spectator figures are correct, it makes worrying reading.
How on earth can we house all these people when we already have a housing crisis?
- Government launches a survey of landlords and agents – read about it here.
- Most people it seems won’t give up Avocado toast in order to get on the housing ladder (what?)
- Plans to use the site of Holloway Prison for social housing discussed here.
Newsround will be back next week.