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News round up

It’s rarely a quiet period for new developments and issues likely to affect buy to let landlords. If you want to stay abreast of some of the latest news affecting your business and keep one step ahead of your rival landlords, just read on …

The new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 – what classes a property as unfit?

The new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on the 20th of March. What impact might the legislation have on you and what does it take to make your let property unfit?

Your tenants now have the right to sue you in local courts if you do not adequately maintain your property.

An article in Landlord Today on the 19th of March published the lengthy list of potential issues – including everything from the use of asbestos and MMF, lead, damp and mould, electrical hazards, water supply, Carbon Monoxide hazards, hygiene and food preparation, drainage, noise, and overcrowding.

If tenants’ take their landlords to court, then the courts will also decide whether any of the problems resulting in the accommodation being unfit for habitation have been caused by the habits and behaviours of the tenants themselves.

Legal battle over landlord not serving a gas safety certificate until after the tenancy started

The Court of Appeal will decide whether a delay in serving a gas safety certificate to tenants until after they had already moved into their rented property is sufficient to invalidate the landlord’s Section 21 notice of eviction.

Although a landlord was initially granted the Section 21 notice by the courts, the decision was appealed by the tenant, and the landlord’s right to repossession was reversed.

The dispute between landlord and tenant will now be heard in the Court of Appeal, reported Property Industry Eye on the 19th of March.

Landlords banned from blocking benefit claimants in rental adverts

Online estate agent Zoopla, which also runs the website Primelocation, from the beginning of next month will block all listings on its sites which specifically rule out tenancies by applicants in receipt of welfare benefits.

Adverts which state “no DSS” – or words to that effect – are to be removed from listings and from the search parameters on the websites, said the Sun newspaper on the 15th of March.

Of the total of some 4.5 million tenants in private rented accommodation, an estimated 889,000 – almost 20% – are in receipt of housing benefit.

Keeping your tenants safe

On the 18th of March, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) echoed a timely warning from the Home Office about the danger of fire – especially in premises rented by younger tenants.

Renewing its Fire Kills campaign, the Home Office is encouraging landlords to teach their tenants basic fire safety advice – such as never leaving unattended pans on the cooker, overloading electrical sockets, or putting heaters too close to clothes being dried.

Statistics gathered by the Home Office show that most fires in the home start in or near the cooker, typically through a chip pan or the grill catching fire, or by items such as tea towels or drying up cloths left too close to it.

Landlords have a legal obligation to install a fire alarm on every floor of their let property and to test that each device is working properly at the beginning of every tenancy.

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