Residential Landlord - Update Housing and Planning Act 2016
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 (“HPA 2016”) contains a number of aspects that will impact directly on residential landlords.
Part 2 of the HPA 2016 introduces a number of measures to give local housing authorities mechanisms to try and deal with ‘rogue’ landlords and agents so that they cannot exploit more tenants. Hopefully, this will drive up standards, but there is also a risk that a well meaning and conscientious landlord may inadvertently fall foul of the rules. Ignorance is not a defence to the law, so it is worthwhile keeping up to date with the requirements, as a banning order will have severe consequences.
Local authorities can now apply to the First tier Land Tribunal for a banning order against either a residential landlord or agent who has been convicted of a banning offence. (The definition of a banning order offence is to be set out in regulations in due course. The Department for Communities and Local Government is currently inviting views and comments on what offences should constitute 'banning order offences' under section 14 of the HPA 2016. The consultation closes on 10 February 2017). Such banning orders will prevent that person;
- Letting housing in England
- Engaging in letting agency work or
- Engaging in property management work
A banning order must be for at least 12 months and any breaches are punishable by imprisonment of a fine of up to £30,000. However, breach of a banning order does not affect the enforceability of a tenancy, which ensures that a tenancy is not invalid if the landlord or agent in question becomes subject to a banning order.
Recovering Abandoned Premises
Possibly one of the more significant changes to resident landlords is the ability to recover abandoned premises let under an assured shorthold tenancy, without the necessity of obtaining a court order. These provisions will come into force on a date to be appointed by regulations. However, it is unlikely to be as easy as was hoped.
Section 57 of the HPA 2016 provides that a landlord can give a tenant notice bringing the tenancy to an end if the following apply;
- The tenancy relates to premises in England;
- Rent has not been paid;
- The landlord has given a series of warning notices, and no tenant, occupier or person who has paid the tenancy deposit has responded in writing by the dates specified in those warning notices.
However, a word of warning, a tenant can apply for their tenancy to be reinstated within 6 months of the day the notice (as detailed above) is given if they had a good reason for failing to respond to the warning notices. This may cause problems….. it is unclear what a ‘good reason’ will be and what will happen if the court reinstates a tenancy, when the same has already been re-let to new tenants, as a court can make whatever order it thinks fit for the purpose of reinstating that tenancy.
So whilst in theory, this is a step in the right direction for landlords, in reality it will involves a long process of serving notices, and waiting for notice periods to expire, before finally hoping that the tenant does not come along and apply for the tenancy to be reinstated. We will soon see how this all works in practice!
Should you require any assistance with this, or any other residential landlord and tenant matters, then please contact us to discuss.