Painsmith Landlord and Tenant Blog

A practitioners landlord and tenant law blog from PainSmith Solicitors

I predict a riot – Anti-social behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014

The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 (the Act) was given royal assent in March 2014. It amends the Housing Act 1988 to include a new mandatory grounds for possession based on anti-social behaviour. Sections 97 to 100 ( in Part 5) of the Act deal with the new grounds for possession relating to Assured Tenancies ( of which Assured Shorthold Tenancy is a subset). These provisions are not yet in force, and will come in via a Commencement Order sometime in the future.

New ground 7A

In summary ground 7A of schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 will provide that the court must give possession if any one of 5 conditions are met:

1. the tenant and/or another occupier or visitor has been convicted of a serious offence and that offence took place in or near the property; or elsewhere but against a tenant/occupier of the property; or against the landlord or agent
2. the tenant/occupier or visitor has breached an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance( which is a new injunction to be introduced under this act)
3. the tenant/occupier or visitor has breached a criminal behaviour order ( also new order under this act) and that breach was in or near the property, or caused or was likely to cause harassment to a tenant/occupier or landlord/agent, wherever it took place.
4. the property has been closed down under s73 of the Act. The court has a power to prohibit entry to a property where the use of the premises has resulted in or likely to result in serious nuisance to members of the public.
5. the tenant is in breach of an abatement notice relating to statutory nuisance ( breach of Environmental Protection Act 1990 or noise nuisance

The grounds will not be made out if the conviction is in the process of appeal, or has been overturned.

There are time limits: for example for 1,3 and 5 the notice must be served within 12 months of the conviction; for 2 within 12 months of the court making its finding; and for 4 within 3 months of the closure order. The date that the notice expires and after which the landlord could bring proceedings will be one month from the date of service during a fixed term tenancy, or for periodic tenancies, the earliest date that the tenancy could be brought to an end by a notice to quit. Interestingly the reference to the common law principal of notice to quit suggests that in a periodic tenancy, where a landlord can give only two months’ notice at any time, a notice given under 7a will need to expire at the end of a period of the tenancy.

Why ground 7A? Because the mandatory grounds for possession go from 1-8 so this ground has been shoe-horned in at no 7A and is not related to ground 7.

Will it ever be used? In a fixed term then possibly, especially if the fixed term is for a relatively long period with no break clause. In a periodic tenancy arising after the end of a fixed term, unless and until the use of section 21 is limited, why use ground 7a, which would require a hearing and expire at the end of a period, when you could simply serve two months’ notice under the ruling in Spencer v Taylor and the accelerated procedure.

The discretionary ground 14 is also to be amended to make it a ground if the tenant or occupier “has been guilty of conduct causing or likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to the landlord of the dwelling-house, or a person employed (whether or not by the landlord) in connection with the exercise of the landlord’s housing management functions, and that is directly or indirectly related to or affects those functions”. There is no need for the conduct to take place at the rented property.

Controversially, ground 14ZA is added to include that the tenant/occupier has been
convicted of an offence which took place during, and at the scene of,
a riot in the United Kingdom.

Filed under: England only, , , , , ,

Redress Schemes for Letting Agents – countdown to deadline

Sadly the gremlins got into the Painsmith blog again and the address for one of the three authorised schemes was incorrect.  Here they are in full.

The Property Redress Scheme:  www.theprs.co.uk.

The Property Ombudsman:    http://www.tpos.co.uk

Ombudsman Services:  http://www.ombudsman-services.org/property

Filed under: England & Wales

Redress Schemes for Letting Agents – deadline to sign up 1 October 2014

From 1 October 2014 anyone carrying out “lettings agency work” operating in England must belong to a government authorised redress scheme or face a fine of up to £5000.00.

Who does it apply to?

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 s83 provides:

S83…….

(7)In this section, “lettings agency work” means things done by any person in the course of a business in response to instructions received from—

(a)a person seeking to find another person wishing to rent a dwelling-house in England under a domestic tenancy and, having found such a person, to grant such a tenancy (“a prospective landlord”);

(b)a person seeking to find a dwelling-house in England to rent under a domestic tenancy and, having found such a dwelling-house, to obtain such a tenancy of it (“a prospective tenant”).

(8)However, “lettings agency work” does not include any of the following things when done by a person who does no other things falling within subsection (7)—

(a)publishing advertisements or disseminating information;

(b)providing a means by which—

(i)a prospective landlord or a prospective tenant can, in response to an advertisement or dissemination of information, make direct contact with a prospective tenant or (as the case may be) prospective landlord;

(ii)a prospective landlord and a prospective tenant can continue to communicate directly with each other.

With regards to property management work:

S84……

(6)In this section, “property management work” means things done by any person (“A”) in the course of a business in response to instructions received from another person (“C”) where—

(a)C wishes A to arrange services, repairs, maintenance, improvements or insurance or to deal with any other aspect of the management of premises in England on C’s behalf, and

(b)the premises consist of or include a dwelling-house let under a relevant tenancy.

(7)However, “property management work” does not include—

The section goes on to define “relevant tenancy” as an Assured Tenancy ( of which Assured Shorthold Tenancy is a subset); a Rent Act tenancy, and residential long leases. Commercial leases are not relevant tenancies.

In short, if you are a lettings agent, a relocation agent, or a property management agent then the rules apply to you and if you are not already a member of a scheme you have a fortnight from today to do so.

Newspapers that carry advertisements, web portals which facilitate landlords and tenants finding each other directly are not considered to be carrying out “lettings agency work”, nor does the definition apply to things done by a local authority.

Currently there are three schemes:

The Property Ombudsman   http://www.tpos.co.uk/

Ombudsman Services – Property    http://www.ombudsman-services.org/property.html

Property Redress Scheme   www.theprs.co.uk.

Agents should also be aware that in order to comply with the  Consumer Contracts (Information Cancellation and Additional Charges  Regulations 2013  the name and details of any redress scheme be given to consumers before any contract is entered into. The information should be given either in the terms of business or separately but before the contract is concluded.

Filed under: England & Wales

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