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Landlord and tenant – residential

Right to rent – checks

Right to rent checks should be carried out on all tenants and occupiers; note that it is not good enough to simply check the first T or occupier, or to leave people off the tenancy agreement, in order to avoid these checks.

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Service charges – QLTA?

Qualifying long-term agreements are subject to the consultation requirements of s20 LTA 1985. This means that if there is a failure to consult, then there will be strict limits on the amounts that L can recover from Ts under the service charge.

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Service charge – legal costs

Two Q&As on this tricky topic: 

The freeholder of a block of flats goes to the FTT for a determination on the reasonableness of service charges. The leases say that L can recover, through the service charge, the ‘costs of… instructing… solicitors… and any other persons reasonably required in connection with the block’. Does this allow L to charge legal costs to the service charge?

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Airbnb – breach of lease

There has been much publicity about the UT decision on whether a long-lease T can do short-term holiday lets (eg Airbnb). The outcome is that, in most instances, such lettings will be in breach of lease covenants. Specifically, the covenants to watch out for are:

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Costs – First-Tier Tribunal

What is the position on the award of costs in the FTT? Previously, there was a strict £500 ceiling, with costs only being awarded if conduct was frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process. The position was changed in 2013 when the £500 cap was abolished, and costs were allowed ‘if a person has acted unreasonably in bringing, defending or conducting proceedings’ (r13).

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Admin charges – costs of proceedings

’A T of a dwelling in England may apply to the relevant court or tribunal for an order reducing or extinguishing T’s liability to pay a particular administration charge in respect of litigation costs.’

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Abandonment – new procedure

A new procedure will allow private Ls (in England) to recover possession of assured shorthold properties without a court order if T has abandoned the premises. At the moment, it is possible to recover abandoned premises but the procedures are uncertain and these new provisions will give greater clarity.

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Possession – deposit release?

On a residential property possession claim, can the court order the deposit holder to release the deposit to L on account of a judgment for rent arrears (ie without the consent of T)?

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Housing – fixed penalties

Housing and Planning Act 2016 came into force on 6 April 2017, and allows LAs to ‘fine’ Ls by means of fixed penalties (ie financial penalties of up to £30,000). This applies to multiple occupation offences, and also the use of unlawful force to seek an eviction. Penalties are for each individual offence, so L could face multiple fines of up to £30,000 for multiple offences. Guidance is being issued as to the appropriate penalty for each offence.

 

Ts – credit card payment?

A note from PainSmith looks at the problems that can arise if T pays by means of credit card. The problem is that most credit card companies will refund money to the customer if the customer says the money should not have been paid. In that situation, L (or L’s agent) will end up out of pocket.

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