Another week, another Newsround. What do we have for you this week?
‘Unfair’ licensing scheme in Oxford
Oxford has a licensing scheme which requires all HMO landlords to obtain a license. There are two issues which are causing concern.
- Only landlords who are accredited by the Council can obtain a license which is longer than five years – which is cheaper, and
- All landlords are required to attend training sessions and become accredited
The RLA is saying that this is discriminatory and breached European Union directives. For example, landlords who are resident abroad will not be able to attend local training sessions.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said:
It is very concerning that there are so many apparent illegalities in Oxford City Council’s accreditation scheme.
The RLA strongly urges the local authority to review the scheme and would welcome the chance to meet with council representatives to discuss our concerns further.
The Council have responded that they are happy to meet with the RLA but would have preferred any meeting to have taken place before the RLA went public with their concerns, saying
We developed the system following lengthy consultation with local landlords, who requested that we reward landlords who do more to look after their tenants with lower fees and longer licences.
The RLA have indicated that they are prepared to bring Judicial Review proceedings if their concerns are not dealt with.
Government to fund cladding replacement
It appears that there are some 176 private residential tower blocks which are wrapped in the dangerous cladding. Prior to the government’s announcement, many were threatening to charge long leaseholders for the cost – which would be beyond the means of most.
An interesting article on Nearly Legal makes the following points:
- The sum allocated is insufficient to cover the costs
- Will the owners of blocks already re-cladded be able to claim reimbursement?
- What is the scope of the funding – as the problem is not limited to cladding itself
- Is the money a grant or a loan?
- Who will be entitled to the money? Is it just the freeholder? Or can intermediate leaseholders and others also apply?
Other issues are set out in this Guardian article. For example, it appears that David Cameron’s brother-in-law is a partner in a firm which manages freeholds of blocks which have not yet been fixed.
A spokesperson for UK Cladding Action Group, which represents leaseholders said:
This inadequate response will be looked back on in shame when the next Grenfell tragedy occurs. The announcement effectively brands this a cladding lottery. Some people win, but many still lose and are mortgage prisoners
Are Energy Performance Certificates needed for HMOs?
This is an issue we looked at on the blog here. In a recent case, discussed in detail on Nearly Legal here a County Court Judge dismissed an appeal against a possession order where an HMO tenant was being evicted and was defending on the basis that no EPC had been served on him. Nearly Legal reported the Judge as saying
The 2015 AST Regs did not, in themselves, impose new obligations, but referred to obligations in other regulations. So, if the obligation under Reg 6(5) only arose in the situations set out in the rest of the Energy Regs, that was the only point it was an obligation for the purposes of the AST regs 2015.
While there was no derogation expressly made in the 205 AST regs for tenancies of HMOs, this would have required a new definition of EPCs to be relevant to a room, not a building or building unit.
The explanatory note to the form 6A was not in itself the law, and the notes here were misleading.
As this is a County Court decision it is not binding, so no doubt there will be further cases in due course. For example, Nearly Legal suggests that
the next challenge, surely, is whether a room in an HMO falls under ‘building unit’ as designed or altered to be used separately, whether the MHCLG guidance on EPCs is right, and whether there is really any policy reason why a prospective HMO tenant should not be informed of the energy efficiency of the building.
- A landlord in Lincoln has been ordered to pay £52,000 or go to prison, after continuing to accept rent payments knowing that the property was being used to sell illegal goods.
- TDS has warned that the final details of the tenant fees ban are still to be confirmed, and that landlords and agents should be vigilant
- Government figures show that possession claims are taking longer – the RLA is calling for this to be dealt with before consideration is given to scrapping section 21
- Buy to let regulation is blamed as landlord arrears go up
- How the 2008 financial crisis made possible a co-housing development in Cambridge
- The Guardian looks at how Airbnb took over the world
Note that there will be no Newsround next week as we will be running our Annual Conference (and I won’t have time to write it!).