DCLG review of property conditions in the PRS

by Property 118

13:30 PM, 13th February 2014
About 7 years ago

DCLG review of property conditions in the PRS

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DCLG review of property conditions in the PRS

This Department for Communities and Local Government DCLG discussion document considers what more can be done and how best to tackle rogue landlords, without negatively impacting on the good ones.

This is the first stage of the review and comments are invited before the 21st March. Please note these are not policy or legal changes at this stage.DCLG

The DCLG review starts very positively:

“The private rented sector is an important and growing part of our housing market, housing 3.8 million households in England. The quality of privately rented housing has improved rapidly over the past decade.

The overwhelming majority of landlords are reputable and provide decent well maintained homes. This is demonstrated by high levels of satisfaction with 83% of tenants happy with the service they receive from their landlord. We want to support these landlords to continue to provide a good service and a safe home for their tenants. The Government is keen not to impose further regulation on these good landlords. Unnecessary regulation increases costs and red tape for landlords, and can stifle investment. It also pushes up rents and reduces the amount of choice and supply for tenants. We believe that non-regulatory alternatives, e.g. incentives or peer pressure, can be as effective as regulation.”

However it goes on to say there are a small proportion of Landlords and Letting Agents that provide a poor service and engage in unacceptable practices.

The topics covered are:

  • Rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords
  • Retaliatory eviction
  • Rent Repayment Orders
  • Safety conditions
  • Licensing of rented housing
  • Housing Health & Safety Rating System

Under Retaliatory eviction of particular interest was the following discussion point:

“One way of helping to reduce retaliatory evictions may be to introduce restrictions on the use of the section 21 possession procedure by the landlord in certain situations. For example, a restriction could be brought in providing that a section 21 possession notice has no legal force where repairs or improvements have not been carried out to a property. Such a restriction would not have any impact on reputable landlords as they will want to keep their properties in good repair.”

To tackle illegal evictions one discussion point is looking to:

“Extend the powers of courts to impose a Rent Repayment Order where a tenant has been illegally evicted and the landlord found guilty of a criminal offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This may be in addition to any damages that the tenant may receive and any criminal penalty imposed on the landlord.”

Courts could also be able to award Rent Repayment Orders to compensate residential tenants whose landlords do not comply with their obligations, including where a property is found to have serious hazards.

It would be interesting to know if you think it is sensible to introduce further regulation when the existing sanctions for criminal Landlords are very rarely used.

Your responses can be sent to the DCLG be emailing PRSReview@communities.gsi.gov.uk

The full review paper can be seen by clicking HERE


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Comments

Mick Roberts

14:14 PM, 13th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Well, I've only had to ever one section 21 all the way to court & part of that reason was where the gal kept damaging & breaking stuff & calling Environmental Health out on me for the damage.

So to say Landlords wouldn't be able to carry on with the section 21 notice because of:
'a restriction could be brought in providing that a section 21 possession notice has no legal force where repairs or improvements have not been carried out to a property. Such a restriction would not have any impact on reputable landlords as they will want to keep their properties in good repair.'

In the case I've just had, this would be no good at all. Tenant could keep damaging stuff, & Landlord not be able to use notice, as tenant would be saying Landlords fault the repairs.

Mark Alexander

16:15 PM, 13th February 2014
About 7 years ago

I'm not at all keen of the repairing issues being used to prevent a s21 eaither. If create ambiguity and could stall a legitimate claim for possession, for example, when a landlord wanted to move back into the property and a tenant didn't want to move out. On the day of the possession hearing the tenant could submit a long list of fictitious problems which would then need to be investigated and in the meantime the s21 would presumably be deferred. Then comes the question, who would verify the tenants claim. Then, just suppose all those fictitious problem actually manifested themselves (e.g. leaks, plug sockets hanging of walls, broken windows etc.) who could prove when it was done and who did it?

For these reasons I think it's a very bad idea and I will be writing to the DCLG to express these views.

The rent repayment order for illegal eviction isn't such a bad one. What I would prefer to see though is a lot more enforcement of the existing laws before more new ones are passed.
.

sam

22:44 PM, 13th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Although I have lived in this country for more than 40 years, some of the societal attitude never cease to amaze me.

If I am the landlord, I own the property. Why do I have to go through hell and back again if I want my property back for whatever reason or for no reason at all - after the contractual period ?

If I am the tenant, I have purchased the right to stay for a period of time. If I dont like it here, for whatever reason or for no reason at all, I move - after the contractual period.

If you walk in to my shop (not that I have one), I dont have to serve you if I dont want to and I dont have to give you a reason. Similarly, I dont have to buy anything from any particular shop if I dont want to. Neither do I have to give anybody a reason.

I dont have to give anybody a job if I dont want to. Neither do I have to work for anybody if I dont want to. If I dont like working here, I get a job somewhere else. If I cant find another job thats better (whatever the criteria may be) than what I have here, may be I should learn to like the job I have better.

If I have a crap landlord, I go live somewhere else. If I cant find another place thats better (whatever better might be), may be my crap place isnt so crap for the money I pay, then it is probably best to live with it. Or I can learn to be unhappy with my lot.

What I see here is that 83% of the landlords seem to be good guys. Yet they are likely to be made to pay for the 17% bad guys. In my book, thats collective punishment. It isnt just this example, the same logic permeates right through everyday life here (just look at the PPI scandal ! whatever happened to caveat emptor ?). Then everybody wonders why they only have £20 left every week after paying the bills - if they are lucky. Doesnt anybody understand that there is no free lunch ? It is always the enduser (in this case, the tenant) that ends up paying for all the protection he gets ? All that these legislations are going to do is to victimise the guys they are designed to protect ? May be better if we learn to look after ourselves better and take responsibility for ourselves more instead of relying on others or the state to do it for us ? Amazing that what is being discussed should be acceptable for discussion at all.

Mark Alexander

23:02 PM, 13th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "sam " at "13/02/2014 - 22:44":

Superb post Sam!
.

Joe Bloggs

10:26 AM, 14th February 2014
About 7 years ago

THERE IS LITTLE POINT BLEATING ON ABOUT THIS ON 118. PLEASE RESPOND DIRECTLY TO DCLG ON THE LINK MARK HAS KINDLY PROVIDED. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. BELOW IS MY RESPONSE WHICH CAN BE COPIED AND PASTED AND USED AS A BASIS FOR INDIVIDUAL RESPONSES:

I wish to express my grave concerns about the proposal to link s.21 possession notices to disrepair as suggested in below extract:

“One way of helping to reduce retaliatory evictions may be to introduce restrictions on the use of the section 21 possession procedure by the landlord in certain situations. For example, a restriction could be brought in providing that a section 21 possession notice has no legal force where repairs or improvements have not been carried out to a property. Such a restriction would not have any impact on reputable landlords as they will want to keep their properties in good repair.”

for the following reasons:

1) 'retaliatory' is a motive. courts will not easily be able to distinguish this motive from other reasons for wanting possession. The effect will be much more uncertainty that ANY landlord (good or bad) will be able to get their property back, whatever the circumstances. this will result in unfairness and consequently lack of investment in the sector. this will reduce choice for tenants and push up rents.

2) uncertainty in the legal justice system is undesirable; they result in delays which increases legal costs and loss of rent (as often disrepair is counterclaimed as a ruse to delay possession being granted for instance). any such change in the law should most certainly not apply to counterclaims brought by tenants in response to eviction proceedings.

3) it may be necessary to obtain vacant possession in order to repair the property.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Alexander

10:46 AM, 14th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "14/02/2014 - 10:26":

Very well said Joe.

This is what I wrote ...

To whom it may concern

Feedback on the discussion documents re the review of property conditions in the PRS

I’m not at all keen on the repairing issues being used to prevent gaining possession under section 21. It will create ambiguity and could stall a legitimate claim for possession, for example, when a landlord needs to move back into the property and a tenant doesn’t want to move out. If changes were made as proposed, on the day of a possession hearing a tenant could very easily submit a long list of fictitious problems which would then need to be investigated. In the meantime the eviction order would presumably be deferred pending further investigation? Then comes the question, who would verify the tenants claim? Then, just suppose all those fictitious problems actually manifest themselves (e.g. leaks, plug sockets hanging of walls, broken windows etc.) who could prove when it was done and who did it? Sorry, not a good idea at all in my opinion.

The rent repayment order for illegal eviction isn’t such a bad one. What I would prefer to see though is a lot more enforcement of the existing laws before more new ones are passed.

It’s not more regulation we need, it’s more enforcement. Tenancy Relations Officers, EHO’s etc. all know who the real criminals are. They also know which properties are over-crowded, which are unsafe, which don't have planning consents, which are unlicensed HMO's etc. etc. etc. I was delighted to see that government funding has been provided to several Councils for the purpose of taking down the very worst of offenders. My suggestion would be that fines, proceeds of confiscation orders etc. should go back into the funds of the prosecuting Councils in order to fund and incentivise further enforcement. My perception is that the people at the sharp end of enforcement have their hands tied by data sharing protocols and budgets. I've heard of many "slamdunk" cases being dropped due to budget constraints, what message does that send? Moreover, what does it do for the motivation of enforcement officers?

Mandy Thomson

11:15 AM, 14th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "13/02/2014 - 23:02":

Hear, hear! I second that - very good analogies, very well put.

Mandy Thomson

11:35 AM, 14th February 2014
About 7 years ago

I too believe the proposed repair and maintenance clause is dangerous - both for the reason given above - i.e. a vexatious problem tenant could lie about this and even engineer the "evidence" themselves but also because it can be extremely difficult to get repairs done. While we have some really good tradesmen, this industry too has its share of rogues - landlords and letting agents (as well as owner occupiers) are easy pickings for these people.
One of my properties (in fact my former home) has always had penetrating damp issues - I have managed to resolve all but one of these, but not before paying thousands of pounds and getting ripped off by a total cowboy builder - contracted by my then letting agent - both builder and agent then did a disappearing act and I had to pay out further for the "work" to be put right. However, when I employed another damp specialist a year ago to fix the second damp issue, this proved completely ineffective and I'm currently pursuing them. However, it's only after seeing a similar issue with another of my properties that I think I may know what the source of the damp is.
I am lucky that my tenants are really good, decent people who are more than understanding about the damp issue - they're otherwise happy with the property. I did pay them some compensation for the trouble - completely off my own bat. However, a problem tenant could use the damp issue against me.

11:46 AM, 20th February 2014
About 7 years ago

I learned today that a third of MP's are BTL landlords!!

See the scathing article in the New Statesman!


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