Chris Norris, NLA Director of Policy and Practice

 

Find out why the NLA will not stop fighting the government to tweak legislation that could render hundreds of Section 21 notices invalid.

The issue: Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz

Summary: 

The recent County Court decision in Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz, and subsequent response from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, mean that landlords who fail to issue a gas safety certificate before a tenancy begins cannot rely on a subsequent Section 21 notice for repossession.

The Ministry said in early January it would not act to help thousands of landlords who may have inadvertently created de facto assured tenancies instead of the assured shorthold tenancies they intended. It told the NLA that it does not intend to legislate to address the ruling in Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz.

NLA view:

There is no way to rectify the problem in light of the Ministry’s decision. If a landlord has a valid gas safety certificate and forgot to hand it to the tenant, or issued the certificate to a tenant but didn’t receive a signature for receipt, they may not be able to rely on a Section 21 should they need to. If the tenant claims that the landlord didn’t give them the certificate before the tenancy began, there is no way the landlord can serve a Section 21 to regain possession at any point in the future.

We are not calling for less-safe gas regulations as it is essential that landlords with gas installations carry out the required checks, but we do need there to be some means to rectify an honest mistake. Providing landlords are able to demonstrate that they had a valid certificate at the time the tenancy began, they should be able to rely on a Section 21 should they need it.

We have been pushing the Government to tweak the legislation so that the deadline for the certificate to be handed to the tenant is changed, or for there to be some sort of mitigation. There is precedence for this. For example, if the landlord doesn’t give the tenant the Government’s How to Rent guide at the beginning of the tenancy, it is ok as long as they give it to them at some point before serving a Section 21 notice.

The Ministry’s response is disproportionate for what is usually an honest mistake.

Although we have faced a knock-back from the Government, it isn’t the end and we will continue to lobby ministers on this matter.

 

The issue: The Government’s consultation on a Housing Court

Summary: 

The Government is consulting on whether a specialist Housing Court could make it easier for all users of court and tribunal services to resolve disputes, reduce delays and to secure justice in housing cases.

NLA view:

To gather a strong body of evidence on the reality of landlords and repossession we have been consulting widely with NLA members. But in a bid to gather data from a wider audience we commissioned YouGov to conduct a poll of more than 3000 landlords in England and Wales; not necessarily NLA members.

This research revealed that since December 2013 just 11 percent of landlords polled sought possession of a property using the no-fault Section 21 process. This means that a huge majority (87 per cent) said they hadn’t sought possession of their property since 2013.

Of the 11 percent of landlords polled who said they had sought possession of their property in the past five years, 18 percent said it took as long as three months to regain their property, while 27 percent said it took as long as two months.

The study also found that for 30 percent of landlords in the poll who had issued a Section 21 notice, the cost of recovering possession (including legal fees, court fees, rent arrears and damage to property) totalled £499 or less. Fourteen percent said costs were between £1000 and £1999, while 10 percent said the total costs ranged between £5000 and £9999.

The reason why most landlords in the poll sought to regain possession in the past five years was due to rent arrears, while 33 percent said it was because of the tenant damaging the property.

According to the YouGov study, most landlords polled who sought to regain possession of their property used a Section 21, while 20 percent used a Section 8, and a further 20 percent said they used both a Section 21 and a Section 8 in parallel.

In conclusion, the majority of landlords (73 percent) said they supported the establishment of a Housing Court to help resolve issues of rent arrears, damage to property and repossession, with 28 percent voicing ‘strong support’. Just three percent opposed it.

We will submit this strong, independent evidence to the Government’s consultation on a Housing Court and continue to lobby on your behalf.

Do you need advice? The NLA’s Telephone Advice Line is free for members and is staffed by our team of experienced landlords who can be reached on 020 7840 8939.

 

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17 January 2019 - 2:38pm