Post 1 June what are our news items?
Changes on 1 June
Just to remind you that on 1 June the Tenant Fees Act 2019 came into force. So you have to be VERY careful about the fees you charge your tenants (if you are a landlord).
If you are a tenant – you have a remedy if you get charged any fees other than allowed fees. Which are basically:
- Utilities and council tax
- 5 weeks deposit (or 6 weeks for properties with an annual rent of over £50K),
- Interest at 3% above base rent on rent arrears after 14 days,
- The actual cost of replacing lost keys, and
- £50 for amending the terms of a tenancy or the actual cost to the landlord if greater, or
- The £50 or the actual costs of ending a tenancy early
This will all be very difficult for agents and we may see several agents going out of business or being taken over. The fees aspect will not bother self-managing landlords much as on the whole they don’t charge fees in the way that agents do.
The restriction on deposits though will probably make landlords less willing to take a chance on tenants. But time will tell.
At the last minute …
The government put them online at the very last minute. Still, I suppose its an improvement to have them go online at all, as in the past it has not been unknown for the assured tenancy form on the gov.uk site to be out of date.
I think its probably fair to say that landlords as a group are not happy, with a National Landlords Association poll saying that only about 1 in 6 would support the Conservates in an election.
Apparently, 85% say they will vote against any party wanting to remove section 21. That may, of course, mean that they won’t have any party to vote for at all as most politicians seem to think it is a good idea.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, says:
It’s hardly surprising that landlords are losing faith in the Conservatives given the way their Government has overturned the economic, and now legislative, foundations of the private rented sector since 2015. The Tories’ attitude seems to be “Well, who else are landlords going to vote for?” The response is coming back loud and clear, “Not you”.
Huge licensing scheme in Barking and Dagenham
A big licensing scheme has been approved in Barking and Dagenham that covers every single private rented property in the borough. It will cover 20,000 private rented households or 27% of the London borough’s entire housing stock.
Cllr Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said:
It is fantastic news that the Government has approved our new property licensing scheme for five years, right across the borough – the first of this kind to be given government approval anywhere.
It will be a key weapon in our continuing fight to improve standards in the private rented sector. We are absolutely determined to protect our tenants, making sure they live in safe homes that are in good condition and well managed.
Let’s hope that they do actually use this to improve standards and prosecute and close down the criminal landlords.
Nearly Legal reports on an interesting tenancy deposit case, Howard v Dalton, County Court at Dartford, 7 May 2019. Sadly just a county court decision but no doubt it will be influential.
Ms H was the tenant and Mr D the landlord. A deposit was taken in 2007 but not protected until 2014. No prescribed information was served. At first instance the Judge held that there had been two breaches (failure to protect and failure to provide prescribed information) for each of the eight tenancies, so 16 breaches. The award was three times the deposit of £1745 for each breach, giving a total of £83,760.
The landlord appealed.
He was successful as the penalty was reduced to £7,200. Nearly Legal quotes the decision as follows:
A failure to protect under s.213(3) would inevitably give rise to a failure to provide prescribed information under s.213(6). It was not Parliament’s intention that damages should be awarded for each breach, rather than only either breach. The requirement to provide prescribed information could not be independent from the requirement to protect.
The penalty was therefore one penalty per tenancy.
Mr D had raised limitation on appeal, and this was valid as the pre-action correspondence had not set out that eight tenancies would be relied upon at trial. 6 years limitation was applied, reducing the tenancies claimable to four.
The second payment of £845 was rent in advance, not a deposit – applying Johnson v Old (2013) EWCA 415 (our report).
The penalty was reduced from three times to two times the deposit, (not entirely clear why).
The deposit penalty payable to Ms H was therefore £7,200.