Legislation

NEW LEGISLATION 1ST JUNE 2019

Spring 2019 has changed everything you knew about Lettings

New Legislations – Tenant Fee Ban – Landlord’s New Fee list

As of 1st June 2019, the Tenants Fee Ban starts, we ( Agents / Landlords’) will no longer be able to charge the tenants for any fees. It has widely been estimated that we/Agents will lose around 25% of our income.

The Tenant Fee Ban was to help Tenants, and stop rogue Agents/Landlords from charging the tenants extortionate fees etc.

What has really happened. The Agents are now passing these fees onto their Landlords, and in contrast inevitably rents will rise to cover the Landlords cost.

What fees can I ask a tenant to pay?

  1. Rent
  2. Utilities
  3. Holding Deposit
  4. Full Security Deposit
  5. Default (see below)

The only payments you can charge in connection with a tenancy are:

  1. The rent
  2. Refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than five weeks’ rent
  3. Refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than one week’s rent – which you can hold for a maximum of 15 days
  4. Default: payments to change the tenancy when requested by the tenant, capped at £50
  5. Default: payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant TBC
  6. Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax; and
  7. Default fee for late payment of You can only charge a tenant a default fee, for a late payment of rent (which is more than 14 days overdue)
  8. The reasonable costs incurred by the landlord or agent (for a replacement key/security device). The Act does not affect any entitlement to recover damages for breach of

*You cannot evict a tenant using the section 21 eviction procedure until you have repaid any unlawfully charged fees or returned an unlawfully retained holding deposit. All other rules around the application of the section 21 evictions procedure will continue to apply.

What fees can I NOT ask a tenant to pay?

If they are not listed above, you can not ask the tenant to pay – it is that simple.

FFHH – (FITNESS FOR HUMAN HABITATION) ACT 2018

THE CHANGES Under the Homes Act 2018, landlords and letting agents acting on their behalf must ensure properties, including common parts where they have an estate or interest, are fit for human habitation at the beginning and throughout the duration of a tenancy.

Tenants will now be able to take direct legal action if their agent or landlord does not comply with the Act.

NB: Landlords/Agents should be aware that property checks will no longer be needed by local authority enforcement officers before being taken to Court by a tenant

‘Matters’ refers to: Repair; Stability; Freedom from damp; Internal arrangement; Natural lighting; Facilities for preparation and cooking of food; Water supply; Drainage and sanitary conveniences; Ventilation; and facilities for the disposal of waste water. NB: The Homes Act adds to this list ‘any prescribed hazard

PRESCRIBED HAZARDS The Housing Act 2004 defines a ‘hazard’ as ‘any risk of harm to the health or safety of an actual occupier of a dwelling or HMO which arises from a deficiency in the dwelling or HMO’.

The hazards used in the Homes Act, are the 29 as listed in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS The 29 HHSRS hazards are: Damp and mould growth; Excess cold; Excess heat; Asbestos and Manufactured Mineral Fibres; Biocides; Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products; Lead; Radiation; Uncombusted fuel gas;Volatile organic compounds; Crowding and space; Entry by intruders; Lighting; Noise; Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse; Food safety; Sanitation and drainage problems; Water supply; Falls associated with baths; Falls on level surfaces; Falls associated with stairs and ramps; Falls between levels; Electrical hazards; Fire; Flames, hot surfaces and materials; Collision and entrapment; Explosions; Ergonomics; and Structural collapse and falling elements.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO Letting agents and landlords should be aware that through an implied covenant, the Act places responsibility on them to ensure that the property is fit for human habitation before the tenancy commences and for its duration. NB: The implied covenant cannot be excluded from the tenancy agreement by contract, or to place any financial requirement on the tenant because of it.

During the tenancy. The tenant may notify their agent or landlord if they have identified a hazard, but property managers may wish to administer checks as a preventative measure. To monitor fitness for human habitation, the landlord or someone who has written authorisation by the landlord, such as a letting agent, is allowed entry to the property and communal areas to view its condition and state of repair. Entry to the dwelling is only permitted at reasonable times of the day and by giving the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice in writing. In an emergency, the agent or landlord may be entitled to enter the property on shorter notice

Rectifying problems Once notified of identified hazards, the landlord or agent is responsible for remedying a hazard and will have a reasonable period of time to rectify the issues. NB: Circumstances will decide what is a reasonable amount of time to remedy a hazard, such as the severity of the issue. Agents and landlords should seek to rectify any hazards they are responsible for as soon as they possibly can.

NB: Tenants should be given at least 24 hours’ notice for a visit within reasonable hours for the hazard to be fixed. If the agent or landlord has been made aware of a hazard, and are not actively trying to remedy it, the tenant then has the right to take them to Court. It is then up to the Courts to decide if the agent or landlord dealt with the hazard in a reasonable time.

NB: Evidence should be provided to the tenant that the hazard has been rectified, such as a report from a tradesperson

Tenant-like manner It is not the responsibility of the landlord or agent to carry out works or repairs where unfitness has arisen from the tenant not using the home in a ‘tenant-like manner’.

Behaving in a tenant-like manner includes: unblocking sinks, toilets, and drains; Changing light bulbs and fuses; Keeping both the interior and exterior clean (including windows); Maintaining level boiler pressure by repressuring when necessary; Bleeding radiators; Changing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; General garden maintenance, such as mowing the lawn and sweeping up leaves; Keeping windows free from condensation; and Ensuring the property is kept free from pests.

Tenant’s own breach If a hazard has been created through a tenant’s own breach of the implied covenant to keep the property fit for human habitation, the landlord or agent is not liable for the unfitness. For example: The tenant has blocked their drainage system by flushing baby wipes. On identification, the agent is not responsible for repairing the plumbing as the hazard has been created by the tenant.

ENFORCEMENT Where a landlord or letting agent fails to rectify a hazard within a reasonable amount of time, the tenant has a right to take action in the courts for a breach of contract on the grounds that the property is not fit for human habitation. If the Court identifies that the agent or landlord has breached their obligation to keep the property fit for human habitation, the Court can order two things: 1. That the agent or landlord must make the property fit for human habitation. 2. And/or that the agent or landlord must pay compensation to the tenant.

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