Spring Legal Update - What Landlords need to know!
This article looks back over the last 12 months at changes that have happened in legislation and court cases and looks forward in anticipation of changes that have been announced for the future. Two members of our team, Kim and Jackie, have tried to summarise the key parts of the legal update that landlords need to know. As this is a very dynamic situation, the notes are believed to be up to date at the time this was written, but things may change! We hope this will be of some help and if you do have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to give the office a call on 01454 316718.
Summary of Section 11 Repairing Obligations – Common areas
From a landlord’s perspective, it is essential to have an understanding of the key repairing obligations both to preserve the landlord’s asset, and to avoid unnecessary claims and dissatisfaction from tenants. Even the most modern and well-built houses will deteriorate if left to their own devices. To keep a house in a habitable condition, constant maintenance is needed and both tenant and landlord need to work together to ensure defects are detected and rectified.
There are a number of statutory implied terms which dictate your repair obligations as landlord. The most important of these is Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (which replaced Section 32 of the Housing Act 1961) which states that the landlord shall keep in repair:
- The structure and exterior of the dwelling – not including gutter clearance.
- The installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation.
- The installations for the supply of space heating and water heating.
- The communal/common areas and installations associated with the dwelling.
- The required repair will vary depending on the age, character, and prospective life of the property and its’ location. This means the landlord need not maintain a run-down property in an inner city area to the same high standards expected in an expensive central London apartment.
- Landlords or people authorised by them, also have the right to view the condition and state of repair of the property on giving the tenant 24 hours’ notice [in writing and at a reasonable time of day].
- If a tenant refuses to allow the landlord access to carry out the repairs then they:
- Reduce their entitlement to claim for damages for disrepair or for personal injury caused by the disrepair.
- Expose themselves to a potential claim for loss suffered by the landlord as a consequence of the landlord being unable to prevent further deterioration or damage to the property. This may result in monies being deducted from the damage deposit.
Immigration Act 2014
In May 2015, the current Immigration Act 2014 pilot scheme that has been running in Birmingham over the past 3 months comes to an end. It is then understood a period of analysis on the effects on homelessness and discrimination will follow the ending of the pilot scheme prior to a decision to roll the scheme out on national basis.
The responsibility for complying with the requirements of the Immigration Act 2014 will be the responsible of the landlord, unless there is written agreement to the contrary with your appointed managing agent.
Also it is important to note that if any tenant allows lodgers or sublets within their property, the obligation to check will fall to the tenants.
For further information on Immigration Act 2014 and to find a list of the minimum requirements for identification and documentation for the applicants to have a “right to rent��? in the UK.
Please visit www.gov.uk.
Council Tax Liability
After a recent tribunal case in Shropshire, it is now the responsibility of the landlord to pay Council Tax for any month after a tenant has left the property even if before their tenancy agreement is expired, with the correct given notice.
Court Fee Increase Proposed
As of February 2015, following in the footsteps of last year’s increase, the cost of court fees for possession claims has risen again by £75 for both Accelerated Possession and Possession Claim online.
Minimum EPC “E��?
From the 1st of April 2018 landlords will not be able to rent their property to any new or existing tenants on a new agreement, if their property energy performance rating is below an E grade, under the Energy Act of 2011.
The regulation will include a number of safe guards to ensure that only permissible, appropriate and cost effective measures are required under the proposal. Landlords will be eligible for an exemption from reaching the minimum standard where they can provide evidence that one of the following applies:
- The measures are not cost effective, see ‘The green deal Golden Rule’
- Where the landlord cannot obtain necessary permission from tenants, superior landlords or lenders.
- There is written evidence from a qualified professional that the actions taken to raise the EPC will damage the property (i.e. wall insulation), or lower the value of the property by 5%.