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Landlord and tenant – residential

Assured shorthold – six months?

There are still some people who wrongly think that an assured shorthold must be for a minimum of six months. That misconception dates back to HA 1988 which created the first assured shorthold tenancies, and required there to be a minimum term of six months.

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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.

 


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