Another Friday, what news do we have for you?
Late gas inspections
There has been another county court case on gas where the Judge has refused to make a possession order because the gas safety check had been carried out outside of the 12 month period.
The case is Kaur v. Griffith which was decided at the Bromley County Court on 25 July 2019.
There is a discussion of the case on Nearly Legal here.
What concerns me about this is that frequently gas safety checks cannot be done because the tenant refuses access. It would be most unfair and wrong if the tenant could then defend a claim for possession based on this.
Court date set for the Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield case
This is the gas safety certificate case discussed here. A post from Srah Cummins on the Anthony Gold blog has announced that the Court of Appeal hearing has now been set for January 2020. The court has given the appeal a floating date over 28-29 January 2020.
This case should give some certainty to the issue of gas safety certificates and section 21 as all the cases so far have been County Court decisions. Hopefully, they will also comment on the Kaur v. Griffith decision. Sarah Cumins also says
Among the issues that the Court will need to determine is whether HHJ Carr’s interpretation of the provisions amounts to a breach of a landlord’s right to peaceful enjoyment of his property contrary to Article 1 of the First Protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights.
We understand this is the first case where a senior court will consider the human rights implications of the regulations and how they have been interpreted. The decision is therefore likely to have significant consequences for landlords, tenants and judges who have been grappling with these issues in the county courts.
So that will be very interesting. As David Smith says in the video on our YouTube channel here, this problem was not intended by government and important rights such as landlords’ rights to control their own property should not be taken away by mistake.
Sneak updates to the How to Rent Guides
As reported by Nearly Legal, the government sneaked out a couple of updates to the How to Rent Guides without telling anyone – even its own website gave the date of the last update as 31 May when it clearly wasn’t.
To quote Giles:
This really should not happen. While the changes are relatively minor tweaks, they are changes nonetheless. And as the statutory requirement is for the tenant to be provided with the version of the guide current at the time, silent changes obviously present problems – how many landlords and agents will be using the original 31 May version without knowing it has since been changed? (Not least as the gov.uk page says it hasn’t been changed since then.)
While I would imagine a court would give a certain leeway in the circumstances, should it be raised, this is not an issue that should have arisen in the first place. Please MHCLG, do not do this again.
This has been reported quite widely, and also, interestingly, in the most recent Daily update from gov.uk on the rented housing sector. They have also amended the gov.uk page to show the correct date.
Hopefully, they won’t do it again. You can find the most recent version here.
This issue just shows that you should always (if you are a landlord or agent) print your copies from the gove.uk page immediately before serving it so you can be sure you have the right version. Do not stockpile them in the office.
An interesting post on Property Industry Eye looks at this growing problem from the point of view of the letting agents. Points made are that
- Almost one in five properties in London are let by someone with ten or more listings.
- Many of these will be tenants subletting without permission
- This is a big problem for their landlords as it will put them in breach of their mortgages and insurance policies (which could mean insurers would refuse to pay claims).
- Reference checks often don’t pick up on these individuals because they have respectable jobs
- Agents are prevented from sharing names and previous addresses of rogue tenants under the GDPR data protection regulations.
This is on top of the problems Airbnb lettings cause for neighbours and the loss of this property for ‘proper’ housing such as for families.
Incorrect Government Guidance on Right to Rent
The document says that for nationals from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States (known as B5JSSK nationals), planning on staying in the UK for up to six months, landlords will only be required to see their passport and airline ticket as proof that they can rent property. They do not need a visa.
Whilst this guidance has no legal standing, the legally binding Code of Practice agreed by Parliament makes clear that for such nationals landlords must be shown clear evidence from the Home Office that the holder has the right, either permanent, or for a time limited period, to reside in the UK.
The RLA argues a simple airline ticket with a passport does not meet this threshold.
Without a corresponding change to the Code of Practice by Parliament, the guidance does not give ANY legal cover for landlords should a tenant stay longer than six months.
The RLA is calling for the whole scheme to be scrapped after the court decision earlier (now being appealed) that it breaches human rights rules.
- Tenants successfully refuse to pay contract renewal fee to letting agent
- HHSRS inventory reports are not needed to comply with the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, according to No Letting Go.
- Cabinet ministers supplementing salaries via buy-to-let investments
- Over four in ten tenancy deposits are higher than new cap, agents warned
- Can modular homes solve the UK’s housing crisis?
Newsrond will be back next week.