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Landlord and tenant – residential

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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Right to buy – summary

The right to buy was introduced by HA 1980, and some 2m LA properties have since been sold under that scheme.

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RTM – non-compliance

The CA recently considered the position where a right to manage company fell foul of the technical requirements of CLRA 2002 (which allows half or more of qualifying Ts to take over L’s management functions).

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Energy performance – EPCs

A minimum EPC of E will be required to rent a residential property as from 1 April 2018. This will apply to all tenancies that begin (or are renewed on or after) that date. For existing tenancies, the rules will not come into effect until 1 April 2020.

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Rats – whose liability?

Is L liable if there are rats or other pests in a rented property? In practice, the answer will probably depend upon whether the property is furnished or unfurnished, and whether the rats were present at the time the tenancy started (or have entered since).

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Sub-letting – ‘family’

  A recent case provides a clear warning of the dangers of accepting a lease which restricts use to ‘a single private dwelling house in the occupation of the lessee and his family’. In essence, such a covenant will prohibit all sub-letting – including the granting of an assured shorthold.

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Tenant – liable for council tax?

In deciding who is liable for council tax, the crucial question is likely to be whether the tenancy agreement creates a lease of at least six months; if so, then T will be regarded as the ‘owner’ under s6 LGFA 1992, and thus liable to pay council tax. The CA recently looked at the situation in which a tenancy is granted for a fixed term of six months, and thereafter on a month-to-month basis (ie an initial fixed month term, followed by a periodic tenancy).

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