Home Recent Landlord News Mr Sasha Charles responds to the consultation aiming to shape a better complaints system for housing issues

Mr Sasha Charles responds to the consultation aiming to shape a better complaints system for housing issues

Mr Sasha Charles responds to the consultation aimingThe scope of your article ( Mr Sajid Javid) https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/housing-complaints-consultation-housing-secretary-sajid-javid/  is to seek the views of tenants, amongst others, as to whether an ombudsman should be introduced covering the entirety of the housing sector.

The Housing Act 2004 devolved powers to local authorities in relation to housing disrepair. Local authorities could now enter property for inspection and serve notice upon landlords or responsible person relating to hazards and remedial works and even prohibit the use wholly or partially of property in extreme cases.

Following the enactment of the Housing Act 2004 standards of housing in private rented sector had arisen substantially, this is backed by a Government white paper which confirmed an approximate 82% of renters were satisfied with their accommodation in the private rented sector, a substantial rise since the 2007 when the Housing Act 2004 came into force.

Our view is that review and reform of the operation of the Local Authorities under the Housing Act 2004 could achieve the same at substantially less cost than an ombudsmen scheme for the housing sector.

Reform could include a new prescribed form for tenants to use to serve upon their landlords in cases of disrepair ensuring there a fixed procedure to follow which would also compliment the retaliatory eviction legislation brought in under the Deregulation Act 2015 which requires a written compliant to be made to a landlord to prevent eviction under the section 21 (of the Housing Act 1988) ground for possession.

Having a fixed procedure for tenants to follow in relation to disrepair could assist educate both tenants and landlords as to their rights and duties and create a complaints system more just for both landlords and tenants.

The courts have always upheld that landlords of residential property are not liable for disrepair until they are notified and there are various authorities we can cite to evidence the same. Because many tenants may verbally complain of housing disrepair to their landlords this leads to disputes and lack of evidence as to whether a landlord was ever notified of disrepair.

Your article extends the issue further, to include the possible liability of builders in relation to the condition of property. For that reason, review of the Housing Act 2004 is necessary to consider the possible extension of the power of Local Authorities to take action against builders who are liable for the condition of a property following substandard work having been carried out.

Such matter would be adjudicated on by the Property Chambers of the Tribunals for appeals made by builders to action taken against them, thus rising standards of building works in conjunction with the general standards of housing.

Under the same reform, we would propose that two important issues were also addressed by Parliament in response to recent court cases concerning the validity of section 21 notices served in certain circumstances which do not reflect the intention of Parliament. The courts cases are Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz in the Central London County Court. 2 February 2018 and Amak Property Invesments (London) Ltd v Sonny in the Central London County Court on 15 September 2016. Both these cases indeed were appeals, and whilst only county court decisions and not binding, other’s courts have indeed followed such judgements.

Both cases concern the Deregulation Act 2015 and consequential regulations, which as with much new law, was bound to be challenged in a court and indeed has been.

In short, the case Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz it was held that if no gas safety certificate is served upon the tenants within 28 of the gas safety certificate having been obtained no section 21 notice can be served.

The honourable court in a sense scrutinised The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 with judge giving guidance on how the regulations should have been drafted to prevent the court coming to the judgement which they did.

Our view is that review and reform of the operation of the Local Authorities under the Housing Act 2004 could achieve the same at substantially less cost than an ombudsmen scheme for the housing sector.

Reform could include a new prescribed form for tenants to use to serve upon their landlords in cases of disrepair ensuring there a fixed procedure to follow which would also compliment the retaliatory eviction legislation brought in under the Deregulation Act 2015 which requires a written compliant to be made to a landlord to prevent eviction under the section 21 (of the Housing Act 1988) ground for possession.

Having a fixed procedure for tenants to follow in relation to disrepair could assist educate both tenants and landlords as to their rights and duties and create a complaints system more just for both landlords and tenants.

The courts have always upheld that landlords of residential property are not liable for disrepair until they are notified and there are various authorities we can cite to evidence the same. Because many tenants may verbally complain of housing disrepair to their landlords this leads to disputes and lack of evidence as to whether a landlord was ever notified of disrepair.

Your article extends the issue further, to include the possible liability of builders in relation to the condition of property. For that reason, review of the Housing Act 2004 is necessary to consider the possible extension of the power of Local Authorities to take action against builders who are liable for the condition of a property following substandard work having been carried out.

Such matter would be adjudicated on by the Property Chambers of the Tribunals for appeals made by builders to action taken against them, thus rising standards of building works in conjunction with the general standards of housing.

Under the same reform, we would propose that two important issues were also addressed by Parliament in response to recent court cases concerning the validity of section 21 notices served in certain circumstances which do not reflect the intention of Parliament. The courts cases are Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz in the Central London County Court. 2 February 2018 and Amak Property Invesments (London) Ltd v Sonny in the Central London County Court on 15 September 2016. Both these cases indeed were appeals, and whilst only county court decisions and not binding, other’s courts have indeed followed such judgements.

Both cases concern the Deregulation Act 2015 and consequential regulations, which as with much new law, was bound to be challenged in a court and indeed has been.

In short, the case Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz it was held that if no gas safety certificate is served upon the tenants within 28 of the gas safety certificate having been obtained no section 21 notice can be served.

The honourable court in a sense scrutinised The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 with judge giving guidance on how the regulations should have been drafted to prevent the court coming to the judgement which they did.

made it is clear that as soon as the gas safety certificate was served the restrictions on serving a section 21 notice would be lifted.

The case Amak Property Invesments (London) Ltd v Sonny it was held that no section 21 notice may be served if a landlord did not protect the tenancy deposit in accordance with the authorised scheme (protect the tenancy deposit within 30 days of it being paid as per s.213 of the Housing Act 2004).

This contravenes the intention of Parliament, the rights and interest of both landlord and tenant. In effect, a landlord who fails to protect a tenancy deposit in time is forced to return the deposit to the tenant in order to serve a section 21 notice. This is not what the legislation provided until amendments were imposed by the Deregulation Act 2015, again, Hansard has provided that this was not Parliaments intentions. The issue with this is that where damage has been caused to the property, the landlord would still have to forfeit the tenancy deposit and later pursue the tenant for any damages caused or debt owed which the tenancy deposit could have covered.

This increases costs to landlords and tenants despite the Deregulation Act 2015 being the result of the Governments Red Tape Challenge under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government.

The above is a brief summary of how the complaints system of the condition of property can be reformed together with two other matters which could indeed be addressed under the same reform.

Source Landlord Advice UK (Mr S Charles)

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