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Landlord and tenant – residential

Grenfell Tower – long leases

The Grenfell Tower tragedy has focused attention on the fire risks associated with multi-storey blocks of flats. While the emphasis has been on publicly owned blocks, there are likely to be many privately owned blocks that would benefit from fire safety improvements (eg removal of cladding; installation of sprinkler systems). If those private blocks have been sold off on long leases, then that is likely to raise considerable difficulties in terms of how the works are to be carried out.

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Roof redevelopment – RTM?

Ls often seek to develop the roof space of their existing properties. This inevitably leads to arguments with existing long-lessees.

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Energy efficiency – ‘no funding’ exemption

The minimum energy efficiency requirements mean that, from April 2018, Ls will no longer be able to grant tenancies to properties with an EPC of F or G. This will cover the extension or renewal of a tenancy to an existing T – and it will also include a T who has a fixed term which expires, and then becomes a periodic tenancy. Moreover, from April 2020 it will not be possible to even continue letting a property to an existing T if it is an EPC of F or G.

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Insurance – ‘reasonably incurred’?

L had a block insurance policy covering the whole of its property portfolio. One of its blocks was assessed at £12,000, split between the 16 flats. However, Ts produced evidence of comparable policies of between £2,000–£3,000. L’s response was that it had acted reasonably in obtaining a block policy.

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Deposits – pitfalls

An article in the NLJ points out how the tenancy deposit rules (changed by Localism Act 2011) can create a booby trap for blameless and innocent Ls:

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Selective licensing – ‘houses’

The ‘selective licensing’ regime is often wrongly referred to as ‘landlord licensing’. It derives from HA 2004, which gives LAs the power to designate any part of their areas as being subject to ‘selective licensing’ when they are concerned about any range of social evils (eg low housing demand, poor housing conditions, antisocial behaviour). Once such a scheme is in effect, then all private sector Ls in that area must obtain licences and comply with the scheme.

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Service charge – on-account demands

LTA 1985 imposes an 18-month time limit for service charge demands. Insofar as a service charge demand relates to expenditure incurred, more than 18 months previously, T can ignore it (s20B(1)). However, under s20B(2) there is an exception if L notifies the T in writing within the 18-month period that certain costs have been incurred and that T will subsequently have to pay them (ie an on-account demand for estimated expenditure).  

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Sham licence – offence

Sometimes a letting agent will tell an occupier that the property is being offered as a licence, rather than as an assured shorthold. This, in turn, will mean that deposits are not protected in a tenancy deposit scheme.

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Student accommodation – service charges

The UT has held that leases of student bed-sits, with shared communal areas, were not ‘separate dwellings’ and so did not qualify for service charge protection under LTA 1985.  

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Possession – High Court enforcement

If a possession order is made in the county court, L may transfer the case to the High Court for enforcement by a High Court enforcement officer (previously called a sheriff). This will usually result in a quicker eviction than if a county court bailiff is used.  

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