Government has made some important announcements on the PRS regarding the CLG Committee report on the private rented sector. An official date for Retaliatory Evictions provisions has been set and a safe home guide for tenants has been published alongside the report.
RLA Policy Director Richard Jones assessed the newest findings from the Select Committee report to break down the most important items for private landlords:
- The Government want to drive up standards and they have published a Guide for tenants “Renting a safe home”. This highlights potential defects in properties.
The RLA has previously published a tenant guide to finding, vetting, and renting a property. With links through to previous DCLG guidance; you can view this document here.
- Retaliatory Evictions: Government say that the provisions are coming into force on the 1st October 2015.
- Rent repayment orders: Government has rejected the idea for the time being of rent repayment orders to deal with cases of unlawful eviction or where properties have serious hazards.
- Increased fines for criminal convictions: Government will be bringing into force the provisions in existing legislation which significantly increases fines on criminal convictions for breaching housing legislation, as well as planning legislation. Where this is currently punishable by a fine of £5,000 or more then the offender is liable to a potentially unlimited fine. Where a penalty is less than £5,000 the maximum penalty would be increased to £20,000.
- Carbon Monoxide detectors: proposed implementation of legislation around carbon monoxide detectors has been clarified. They would only be required where there are solid fuel burning combustible appliances. This is essentially in line with the RLA submissions. However, if there is a change of Government this may alter. The Government is calling for non-regulatory alternatives to encourage carbon monoxide detectors and financial assistance for this will be available via the fire service.
- Repairing obligations: there is no proposal to change the current repairing obligations under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 in England, although in Wales a major change is proposed in that they will also be introducing a contractual requirement requiring the property to be fit for human habitation, which will deal with issues such as condensation, which are currently not covered by the landlord’s repairing obligation.
- Electrical installation checks: Government have rejected the idea of compulsory electrical installation checks. Again, a future Government may well take a different view.
- HHSRS: the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is not to be reviewed. Consultation responses including the RLA’s called for an update and this is somewhat worrying because the statistics underpinning HHSRS are now clearly out of date especially in relation to fire risk.