Obviously, as a freelance TRO the first one I grabbed with a cup of tea and a biscuit was the new “Quiet Enjoyment” with the added sub-heading, not used on previous editions:-
“Protection from rogue landlords”
The extra material for the 8th edition being based on the new powers brought in under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
Written by Andrew Arden, Robert Brown and Sam Madge-Wyld
You would expect it to be bang on the money and it is, with one niggle that I reserve for all housing law books aimed at practical applications that I shall get to shortly.
Precise explanations which are broken down
What I have always liked about the previous editions, continued here, is the detailed breaking down of a small passage of legislation into detailed parts. Take for instance the explanation of using force to re-secure accommodation where a tenant has been illegally evicted.
Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 is quoted in the book and then broken down into detailed, explanatory sections, for instance when the Act says a person with ‘Lawful authority’, it explains precisely what that authority actually is.
When the Act refers to ‘Premises’ it makes it abundantly clear what the definition of ‘Premises’ means in this context, lest you get it wrong and commit a criminal offence and also the meticulous description of the class of person categorised as ‘Someone opposed to the entry’, and so on.
This method of breaking down legislation into constituent parts has always been this book’s particular strength and I’m glad to see they have maintained that style.
The book is a good investment
It is also a good time for advisers to invest in this book, given that whilst the Housing and Planning Act is largely in force (more to come in October) few of us have actually used any of the new powers yet and the 8th edition covers everything we need to know.
Of particular interest…
To me and many others I know in my kind of work is the painstaking, procedural knowledge involved in successfully applying for Rent Repayment Orders. Before the HPA this was the sole preserve of Environmental Health Officers but with the extension of RROs to a variety of other housing related offences we can all have a go, whether applying on behalf of the authority to reclaim housing benefit or now the tenants to recover rent paid.
There is a nice compendium of seminal and up to date cases as well as sample documents for a range of uses and I should also mention that there is also ample material on the different renting system in Wales.
On a personal tip
I find the section on calculating damages particularly helpful.
For some unknown reason I’m encountering many landlords these days offering out of court payments to avoid further action and the text helps me compile a reasoned estimation based on a more sound knowledge of how the different heads of damages are arrived at. Rather than simply thinking of the highest number I can without laughing and doubling it.
Now to my niggle
As I said above, this is aimed not just at Quiet Enjoyment but all the other books I have bending my desk and in the spirit of constructive criticism I hope that the various authors will address when putting together books aimed at frontline use.
People in my line of work are reporting a common observation, that the more restrictions are placed upon landlords, such as deposit protection and property licensing and the more powers given to local authorities to tackle rogues, such as the Housing and Planning Act, the more creative said rogues get with attempts to evade detection and hoodwink tenants and enforcement officers alike.
Such as the old ‘Evasion of deposit protection by naming it something else’ scam, or the extraordinarily widespread use of ‘Licence agreements’ and the increasingly common sight of ‘Holiday lets’ where a letting is actually a tenancy.
A new trend
The most common development now being the growth in dubious sub-let, rent to rent arrangements where a landlord lets property through an agent, who lets to a “Tenant”, who converts the property into an overcrowded HMO and where the agent protests innocence and blames their “Tenant” when the enforcement teams discover the property.
Subsequent investigations revealing that the offending “Tenant” is well known to the agent as a separate property manager with other houses that they manage for the same agent, sometimes with the knowledge of the owner and sometimes not but with all parties happily raking in the extra cash, whilst pointing the finger of blame at each other.
None of the 10 or 12 tomes I have on different aspects of housing law addresses the common frauds in any direct way and yet such scenarios fill up my week and the working lives of other people in my line of work, endlessly trying to sort out fact and degree from red herrings, and the increasingly ubiquitous practice of landlords and agents using alias’s and fake companies, a scenario I certainly wasn’t dealing with 5 years ago but which is now forming about 50% of my workload.
I will happily offer an open invitation to any housing law book authors to spend a few days with my team, seeing how many cases involve deliberate fraud and manipulation, the use of fictitious agreements, dissolved limited companies, aliases and stolen electricity meters.
Niggle dispensed with…
Quiet Enjoyment – Protection from Rogue Landlords is still the defining specialist book in my world for TROs and housing advisers.
Although I am slightly mystified that there isn’t a designated section on dealing with the growing numbers of dodgy letting agents. But I would imagine this is because the enforcement powers are under Trading Standards legislation as opposed to housing.
Learning curves still abound
After 27 years in the business, I still fall over things I didn’t know in reading this book. Sometimes with a sense of excitement at discovering a fresh angle and sometimes with a wince and an embarrassed glance to the side as I realise I have been getting something wrong.
TROS, Advisers, even lawyers, it happens to us all but I’ll defy any experienced enforcement type to read through this book and not find something you didn’t know and can’t use.
You can get the book from Amazon here – a snip at £50 or £47.50 on Kindle.