Recent headlines reporting that hundreds of thousands are living in “squalid rented accommodation” have alarmed the nation over the last few weeks. There are reports of conditions so poor that tenants are likely to need medical attention. Unbelievable that this could be said of a significant portion of rented housing in Great Britain, but true.
The most hazardous dangers in rented properties are labelled “Category 1”; exposed wiring, dangerous boilers, overloaded electricity sockets and infestations of vermin. The English Housing Survey, states that 795,000 homes rented from private landlords – 17% of the total – contain a Category 1 hazard. That’s a rise of 53,000 in the last 3 years!
The government are taking this seriously with some policies that should, in Rentmyhome’s opinion, be good for tenants and law-abiding landlords, and as a result, for the rental market generally.
The housing secretary, Sajid Javid has pledged government support for new legislation that requires all landlords to make sure properties are safe and give tenants the right to take legal action if landlords fail to do so.
Since April 2017, landlords have been facing fines of up to £30,000. As an alternative to prosecution the government is planning banning orders for the most serious and prolific offenders with a database of convicted rogue landlords and letting agents.
Tenants will be given the right to take legal action against landlords who offer properties that are not ‘fit for human habitation’, confirmed Sajid Javid.
So landlords - what do you need to know?
As you know, it’s not that there aren’t any existing regulatory requirements to help protect tenants. These recent announcements by government ministers have brought tougher new powers to crack down on bad practices, stamp out overcrowding and improve standards for those renting in the private sector. We’ve listed everything that you, as a law-abiding landlord need to know below.
Current regulatory requirements:
compulsory 5-yearly electrical installation checks for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
building regulations since 2010 have required all circuits in new or rewired homes to comply with the wiring rules in BS 7671 and include the installation of a Residual Current Device (RCD) covering any new circuits in the consumer unit since July 2008
landlords are required by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to keep installations including the supply of electricity, in ‘good repair and proper working order’
local authorities have powers, through the Housing Act 2004, to take action where there are electrical hazards in a property
Current and proposed powers include:
introduction of civil penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution (can now be imposed by local authorities)
extension of Rent Repayment Orders to cover illegal eviction, breach of a banning order or failure to comply with a statutory notice
there will be a database of rogue landlords/letting agents convicted of certain offences (from April 2018)
there will be banning orders for the most serious and prolific offenders (from April 2018)
introduced protection for tenants against retaliatory eviction where they have a legitimate complaint and stopped landlords from serving an open-ended eviction notice at the start of a tenancy
required landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy, and to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms
councils can make a direction to remove permitted development rights to convert properties where there are local concerns about the change of use
the government also supports the further measures in Karen Buck MP’s Private Member’s Bill to protect tenants in both the social and private rented sectors. This passed at the second reading on 19th January
where a landlord fails to meet their obligations, tenants will be able to take direct action and take their landlords to court, whereas previously this would have had to be managed by the local authorities.
We know how hard it can be for busy landlords to navigate the murky world of laws and regulations. We hope this post clarifies things for you so you can continue to make the right choices for your rental property.
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