Tenant Advice

Landlord and tenancy advice

Resident expert Graeme Kinnear

Graham Kinnear BSc (Hons), FPCS, CPEA, CRLM, MGIS, AMASI, FPC, CeMAP, DipDEA: Educated in London he then obtained a Land Management degree and spent 12 years in Property Management before joining Landlord Assist. He has extensive experience in Landlord and Tenant Disputes.

Through his monthly articles in Your Property Network, Graeme seeks to give advice on all matters pertaining the legal obligations of landlords, tenants! rights and what to do when things go wrong!

Legislation the Landlord Must Be Aware of

The amount of legislation that landlords have had to adopt over the last few years has been quite staggering.

Indeed, just in the last decade we have had to get used to Deposit Registration, Energy Performance Certificates, HMO Licensing and Selective Licensing to name but a few.  This month we are going to look at two pieces of legislation that some landlords may not be familiar with.

2015 Deregulation Act

The first is the very recently introduced 2015 Deregulation Act, which received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015.

The good news for landlords is that there should no longer be a requirement to reserve the prescribed information relating to the deposit once the tenancy has become periodic; so landlords should no longer fall foul of the issues created by the Superstrike case.

Additionally, the details on the prescribed information can be those of the Agent rather than the personal address details of the actual landlord. Both sensible changes, most would agree.

The more radical part of the Act, however, is the section that deals with preventing retaliatory evictions, the aim being to stop landlords evicting tenants simply because they have complained about the condition of the property. In essence, this will mean that where a landlord has been served with an improvement notice by a local authority in respect of Category 1 or Category 2 Hazards (as defined by the 2004 Housing Act), they (the landlord) will be unable to serve a

Section 21 (S21) notice for a period of at least six months.

Furthermore it will mean that any S21 notice will be invalid if, before it was served, the tenant wrote to the landlord (or their agent) detailing a disrepair issue and the landlord did not adequately respond within 14 days. In such circumstances, where a landlord then serves an S21 notice, the tenant will be able to get it deemed invalid if they complain to the Council, who then serve the landlord with an improvement notice.

In circumstances where proceedings have already been raised in this respect, the Courts will strike out those proceedings.

There are, however, some noted safeguards for landlords, on the basis that (i) the tenant cannot rely on a disrepair issue caused by him/herself during the tenancy; and (ii) the landlord can still serve an S21 notice if the property is genuinely being marketed for sale.

One interesting issue will be that of condensation. Many tenants assert that a property is impacted by damp when it is actually condensation, and therefore arguably caused by the tenant. The reaction of the local authority (whether they serve an improvement notice upon the landlord or seek to educate the tenant about ventilating the property) will have a direct bearing on whether the landlord can evict their tenant.

It is certainly possible that landlords will start to see tenants raising more disrepair issues. What appears absolutely certain is that possession by the non fault S21 notice is likely to become more difficult than ever before.

Legionella Risk Assessment

The second piece of legislation we are going to look at this month is the requirement that landlords have a Legionella risk assessment carried out at their rented properties. Landlords have a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to

Legionella by tenants, residents and visitors is properly assessed and controlled. Legionella is a bacterium that can develop within a water system and lead to  Legionnaire’s Disease where water droplets are inhaled. This is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, and it is estimated that there are around 500 cases of Legionnaire’s Disease in the UK each year.

Many landlords are likely to be completely unaware of this requirement, although several letting agencies have recently picked up on the legislation and written to their landlords. Indeed, my managing agent contacted me only last week to ask about my plans in relation to the issue.

It is recommended that landlords engage a consultant to undertake a risk assessment of their properties, the cost of which is likely to be around £75. As well as the initial assessment, there is a requirement for ongoing monitoring to ensure that the risks are correctly managed.

The report will assess the risks pertaining to the water system at the property, condition of the fittings and profile of the tenant. People over the age of 45 and those who drink and/or smoke are thought to be more susceptible to the disease. Part of the risk assessment involves providing the tenants with documentation showing how they can effectively minimize their risks whilst living in your property.

The assessment will examine the temperature of stored water, as it is this which can influence the growth of the bacteria. In broad terms cold water should be stored at a temperature of less than 20 degrees, while hot water should be at least 50 degrees. Furthermore, tanks, shower heads and taps should be free of scale and build-up as such residue can provide a food source for the bacteria.

I am happy to assist YPN readers where I can and if you have any particular questions or queries, would be pleased to hear from you.

You can contact Graham on

0844 414 8659 or via email

graham@grahamkinnear.com

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