Another Newsround post for you.
Prepare for imminent EICR changes
Landlords and agents! The new electricity regs are due to come into force on 1 April for all tenancies. If you have not got your report done yet – you don’t have much time.
In a recent webinar for Fixflo, David Cox warned that COVID-19 is not likely to be accepted as a valid excuse by the authorities. However if tenants have refused to let you in, this may be accepted – provided you can prove this! So proper documentation is crucial (see our post on this here). His advice was
This is a big safety issue – it’s electrical safety, the same level as gas safety. What is a reasonable time? It is probably shorter than if it was a different piece of legislation. So maybe check in with tenants once a month and record the outcomes if they still won’t allow you access for EICRs and remedial works
Mind you many landlords and agents are finding it difficult to source suitable electricians. Would this be a defence? Probably not unless you can show that you have been trying for some time. David again:
We have had a year. I know a lot of people were putting it off to the last minute and then trying to get them (EICRs) now. And obviously, there’s a massive backlog. You can evidence that you have tried, but I can’t guarantee it’s going to protect you. Because if you didn’t start until February or March, an enforcement body would say, well, you knew about this last year, why didn’t you start looking at doing something about it in August, which is a fair argument and a fair assessment. But if you can show that you’ve sorted it now, that you’ve got an EICR appointment booked in for late April and May, it should give you a certain degree of protection.
The Coronavirus legislation says that Local Authorities should be taking a ‘pragmatic approach’ to enforcement – but don’t count on it!
Right to Rent discrimination fears for Hong Kong arrivals
We are due to have some 300,000 arrivals from Hong Kong shortly under the Governments Hong Kong British National route to citizenship. Landlords are being warned that they must not discriminate against them when carrying out ‘right to rent’ checks.
However, as landlords face fines of up to £3,000 or a criminal sentence for breach of the rules, it is not surprising that most landlords tend to play safe and only let to those whose right is clear – for example those with a British passport.
Legal policy director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Chai Patel told LandlordZONE:
Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal have found that it [ie the right to rent legislation] causes racial discrimination in the housing market and that the government issuing guidance doesn’t stop it. It’s totally unacceptable that Priti Patel supports a government scheme that encourages more racism, when she should be doing everything she can to stamp it out.
Find out more about the Court of Appeal decision here.
Rent Repayment Order case
A rent repayment order case reported on Property 118 makes it clear that tenants in serious arrears of rent cannot expect to receive large rent repayment orders if they go to court.
In this case, the tenant owed rent arrears of £15,538.32 and was taking advantage of the ‘defendant’s inexperience’.
The landlord was ordered to pay just £849.18 as opposed to the £7,000 claimed.
However wouldn’t it have been better if the landlord had obtained the licence before renting out the property as she should have done? She would then have avoided a long and stressful court case.
If the tenants hadn’t been in arrears of rent – the award would have been made. And the landlord’s ‘inexperience’ would have been no defence.
Renting property is a business and a rented property is someone’s home. Landlords are expected to comply with the law. They will only (in some cases) be able to ‘get away with it’ if the tenant’s behaviour has been substantially worse than theirs.
Problems with the Police
I was interested to see this post about the London Renters Union who have claimed on twitter that
Over past year, @metpoliceuk repeatedly helped landlords carry out illegal & violent evictions. Increased police powers will put renters at risk and make it harder to resist evictions and protest for our rights.
As part of their opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will give the police extra powers.
I have to say that over the years we have seen many of these claims on the Landlord Law Blog – for example see the following posts:
- The Police who collude with Landlords who illegally evict tenants – a post by Ben Reeve Lewis in 2018
- Tenants legal help – when the police unjustly support your landlord – a post from 2011 which attracted a lot of discussion
- Unlawful eviction case – the police finally brought to account – where the Police accepted liability and paid £2,500 compensation in 2010
The problem is that the Police do not study housing law so just make it up on the spot – normally taking the part of the illegally evicting landlord. Ben found that when properly trained, the Police tended to deal with things well – so that is the answer. However, sadly, it rarely happens.
So if the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is going to give the police extra powers to assist in illegal evictions, I have to agree with the Renters Reform Coalition on this one. The Politicians need to think again.
Survey result – legislation is landlords biggest challenge
A recent survey of over 14,000 (conducted by MyDeposits and Ome) in the PRS found that 76% of respondents feel that ‘legislation’ is their greatest challenge.
The survey also found that 90% of landlords and agents feel unsupported by the Government and have a perception that policies are ‘anti-landlord’ and ‘pro tenant’.
However despite the view often put forward by the media that landlords and tenants are always in opposition, 69% of letting agents and landlords rated their relationship with tenants nine or ten out of ten, and on average tenants rated their relationship with their landlord 7.4 out of ten.
The survey also found that 77% of landlords still plan to remain landlords over the next five years. However, 67% of tenants hope to be able to purchase their own home.
However quick plug for our Landlord Law Conference which will help landlords get on top of legislation changes!
Eviction ban’s 21,000 ‘in-limbo’ Section 21 notice landlords
There is an interesting post here from LandlordZONE looking at the evictions stuck in limbo. Apparently, there are some 21,000 cases where orders have been made but not carried out. So when bailiffs are allowed to enforce, Local Authorities can expect a lot of homelessness applications.
However, the article focuses on cases where landlords are suffering financially, including a case where a tenant has sublet the property illegally and has failed to pay any rent since October 2018.
- HMO managers face unlimited fines if they break new fire safety rules
- Pet plan pawsed? Minister explains how landlords can refuse pets
- Welsh Eviction Ban extended to end of June
- Big fine for London agency without Client Money Protection
- Up to 750,000 landlords are caught up in cladding scandal, new data shows
- Criminal proceedings against NatWest shows no business ‘is too big to fall victim to fraud’
- Mayor of London election 2021: Lib Dems call for central housing company
Newsround will be back next week.