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Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018; Now in Force in England. 20th March 2019

Posted on March 20th, 2019 -

Introduced to raise the standards of living for tenants.

Landlords have no new obligations as part of this Act, however, landlords must meet existing responsibilities with regards to property standards/safety or risk legal action being taken against them by their tenant.

Any privately rented home must be fit to live in at the start of the tenancy and throughout. This includes common parts of a shared building. The landlord is considered responsible from the point in which a hazard is reported to them by the tenant. However, if the hazard is in the common part of a shared building (eg in a HMO or block of flats), the landlord would be immediately liable. The landlord has a reasonable amount of time to deal with the hazard. If a landlord is aware of a hazard and is not actively attempting to remedy it, the tenant can take their landlord to court.

The rules apply to all new tenancies including renewals from 20th march 2019. Existing tenancies which were periodic before this date will need to comply from 20 March 2020.

There are exceptions. The landlord will not be required to remedy unfitness when:  
– the problem is caused by tenant behaviour
– the problem is caused by events like fires, storms and floods which are completely beyond the landlord’s control (sometimes called ‘acts of God’)
– the problem is caused by the tenants’ own possessions
– the landlord hasn’t been able to get consent e.g. planning permission, permission from freeholders etc. There must be evidence of reasonable efforts made.
– the tenant is not an individual, e.g. local authorities, national parks, housing associations, educational institutions
The Act does not cover people who have ‘licences to occupy’, instead of tenancy agreements. This may include lodgers (people who live with their landlord) some people who live in temporary accommodation, and some, but not all, property guardians.

 

Who enforces this? The legislation allows for the tenant to bring court action directly without first involving the local authority. A judge will decide whether a property is unfit for human habitation based on evidence. The judge will make their assessment based on repairs, stability, damp, internal arrangement, natural lighting, ventilation, water supply, drainage, facilities for food preparation and hazards (under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System).

It is hoped that this Act will level the playing field for good landlords who maintain homes fit for human habitation by ensuring they are not undercut by landlords who persistently flout their responsibilities.

For further information;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/homes-fitness-for-human-habitation-act-2018/guide-for-landlords-homes-fitness-for-human-habitation-act-2018

 


SWLA Attend West of England Landlord Panel Meeting

Posted on March 14th, 2019 -

Gillian Kerr (SWLA Office Manager) attended the meeting on 13th March 2019 hosted by Bristol City Council.

The meeting included a licencing update from all West of England Local Authorities, legislation updates (Homes Fitness for Human Habitation 20/03/2019, Client Money Protection compulsory insurance for letting/managing agents 01/04/2019, Tenant Fees Bill 01/06/2019). Trading Standards at Bristol City Council being the lead authority for the Tenant Fees Bill.

MEES enforcement was discussed. Also the findings of the MHLGC English Private Landlord Survey.

Making Tax Digital; expected to affect the majority of landlords by April 2020 (date to be confirmed).

With the Government overhauling the housing complaints system, a housing redress scheme membership may be on the cards for all landlords.

 

 


SWLA Chair Steve Lees Attends Bristol EPC and MEES Workshop

Posted on March 14th, 2019 -

Items discussed included energy efficiency ratings in the private rented sector; the next year will see many private rented properties having to be brought up to at least an E rating.

Since 1 April 2018, new tenancies, renewals or extensions require the property to have a minimum “E” energy rating. From 1 April 2020, all existing tenancies with a valid EPC must comply.

From 01 April 2019, landlords will be expected to make energy improvements costing up to £3,500.00 (including VAT) to bring properties up to the required energy efficiency standard. Prior to this date, improvements would have to have been made only if there was no cost to the landlord. If there were costs, the landlord could register an exemption. (The cost cap includes monies spent since 01 October 2017 on energy efficiency improvements).

Exemptions can still be registered in certain circumstances, including if £3,500.00 is spent and the property still falls below the expected standard.

For further information, please see the government guidance;

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/749021/Domestic_Private_Rented_Landlord_Guidance_-_June_18.pdf

 

RSM UK Consulting presented their research findings on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

 


Landlord Accreditation Training Course

Posted on March 11th, 2019 -

Landlord Accreditation Training Course 

Monday 3rd June 2019 – 9:30 – 4:30pm

Venue – Astor Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

Price – £65 for members of SWLA, £75 for non – members for one day course.

Course covers ASTs, Deposits, Section 21s, Section 8s, HMOs, Gas and Electrical Safety, Inventories and much more.

The course will provide you with all the skills to start, manage and finish a tenancy. 

Places still available. Contact the office on 01752 510913 or via the website to book your place, places secured on receipt of payment.

Over 740 landlords have already completed this course since September 2011.

Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.

We are proud to announce Landlord Accreditation South West (LASW) are founder members of the West of England Rental Standard.


New Septic Tank Legislation

Posted on March 8th, 2019 -

Compliance with the new rules on septic tanks is required by 1st January 2020.

Homeowners will need to upgrade their drainage systems in order to avoid fines from the Environment Agency. The rules prohibit the discharge of waste from septic tanks into watercourses due to the detrimental impact it can have on the environment.

You must use a small sewage treatment plant to treat the sewage if you’re discharging to a surface water such as a river or stream. A small sewage treatment plant (also known as a package treatment plant) uses mechanical parts to treat the liquid so it’s clean enough to go into a river or stream.

Rules originally came into force 01 January 2015 applying to new septic tank systems but from January 2020 they will be rolled out to include all systems – old and new.

For further information;

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/general-binding-rules-small-sewage-discharge-to-a-surface-water


Client Money Protection Mandatory for Letting Agents

Posted on March 8th, 2019 -

From 1st April 2019, letting agents must belong to an approved CMP scheme. As part of this scheme, they must;

  • display a certificate within branch and on website
  • produce a copy of the certificate to anyone who reasonably requires it (without charge)
  • notify all clients within 14 days if their CMP membership is revoked or if they change to a different CMP scheme
  • provide clients with the name and address of the scheme to which they become a member

 

The agent must also ensure the level of CMP membership provides enough cover to compensate clients for the maximum amount of client money that they hold.

 

Local Authorities will have powers to impose fines of up to £30,000.00 on agents who do not belong to a scheme beyond this date. They can also impose fines of up to £5,000.00 on agents who fail to display correct scheme membership details on their website and within branch.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/mandatory-client-money-protection-schemes-for-property-agents

 

Article information from ARLA

 


Legal Update 2019 Course

Posted on March 5th, 2019 -

Landlord Training Course – Legal Update 2019

 Tuesday 30th April 2019 – 9:30am – 4:30pm 

Venue – Charter Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

If you are accredited this will count towards your CPD hours, but the course is open to all.

Cost for SWLA members – £65. Cost for non-SWLA members – £75. 

A must attend one day course covering the subjects below and more….    

  • Another prohibition on serving section 21 notices.
  • Will both professional cleaning and flea treatment be unlawful?
  • How do the tenant fee ban, and deposit deductions relate?
  • Why a property could cost your landlord £3,500.
  • Why you don’t need an EPC just because the current one runs out.
  • What does the new Fitness for Human Habitation legislation mean for you?
  • Will your client money protection meet the new standards required?
  • Plus, other new laws and court cases.

We will review and consider the effect of what has been a busy year of legislative change, look forward to a pivotal year for our industry and consider the impact of recent court cases.

Having progressed now through the House of Lords we will provide you with all the details of the tenant fee act and consider any regulations needed to implement it.

Places secured upon receipt of payment, book your place through the office 01752 510913.


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