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  • Property-a-holics

    Breaking: Government allowing tenants to sue



    The government has today, Sunday, announced that that it is helping Labour’s Karen Buck MP to draft a Private Members’ Bill known as the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability of Housing Standards) Bill which will allow tenants to have the right to take legal action if their private rental property is in poor condition.

    The Bill propses:

    - that all landlords (both social and private sector) must ensure that their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout and;

    - where this is not done, the tenant will have the right to take legal action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation.

    Local authority powers to deal with landlords who rent out unsafe of substandard accommodation already exist to some extent with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System - which was introduced by the Housing Act 2004 – which gives councils the right to assess whether a property contains potentially serious risks to the health and safety of the occupants.

    Where a property does contain hazards, local authorities have strong powers under the Housing Act 2004 to require that landlords make necessary improvements to a property.

    Where a property contains potentially serious risks to the health and safety of the occupants, the local authority must take appropriate action requiring the landlord to reduce or remove the risk.

    Sajid Javid, the Housing Secretary, said: "

    Public safety is paramount and I am determined to do everything possible to protect tenants. That is why the government will support new legislation that requires all landlords to ensure properties are safe and give tenants the right to take legal action if landlords fail in their duties.”

    Full/source article 

    What do you think of this news?

    Update:

    On 19th January, the Government voted through this Bill. There are still a number of stages remaining before it can become law.

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    This is very worrying news for landlords and I don't see how it's workable.

    The current system involves the local council.  If tenants are unhappy with the condition of the property, they can go and complain to the council who will send someone round to inspect and effectively act as an adjudicator.  The council will then report to the landlord, giving him the opportunity to take measures to put things right.

    If instead tenants are able to go straight to court with their complaints, then surely the courts are not in a position to go and see for themselves what the issues are, nor inclined to allow the opportunity for the landlord to do something about it before they pass judgement?

    Angela

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    "It is the small decisions you and I make every day which shape our destinies." Anthony Robbins

    This is very concerning. 

    No win no fee lawyers will have a field day with this one as it seems they need little or no evidence to pursue you for a claim.

    We had an issue with an ex tenant who tried to blame (non existent) disrepair to the property on a pre-existing injury.

    He used a no win no fee lawyer who approached us as though we were guilty of what he was claiming without any evidence.

    They were clearly aiming for an out of court settlement which is what some vulnerable people caught up in this type of fraud will agree to as a way to prevent a court hearing.

    We came through it, but it was a terribly stressful & time consuming.

    If I'm allowed to recommend someone who will defend landlords against fake claims I'd highly recommend Raymond Southern

    of BLM solicitors based in Manchester - he's an anti fraud solicitor and went above and beyond to assist us.

    Ultimately we replied to all correspondence from the claimants  solicitors with the intention to deny responsibility along with evidence of his claim.

    If you find yourself in this situation and are innocent of the claims - always deny liability and persist for evidence & medical records if relevant - you have a right to these things.

    His solicitors eventually dropped the case.

    We knew he'd get thrown out of court or even imprisoned if daft enough to take it that far but it was still incredibly stressful.

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    That sounds like a nightmare Shicomi, I'm sorry to hear you went through such an ordeal.

    It could be a field day for no win, no fee lawyers as you say, with rogue tenants laughing all the way to the bank.

    Us landlords will have to be more careful and on our toes than ever.  Good suggestions below from John Kelly about inventories and getting tenants on camera at the start agreeing the house is all good!

    I admire your spirit in fighting your corner and getting through this.

    Well done,

    Angela

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    "It is the small decisions you and I make every day which shape our destinies." Anthony Robbins

    Thanks Angela,

    It also led to problems with our insurance company - we were insured but they were incredibly devious and refused to pay out on legal support

    we're still in the process of a legal complaint against them. Even if insured, don't assume they'll always do what they're supposed to.

    Under those circumstances we were left to find our own legal support which turned out to be incredibly difficult.

    As a landlord, even on a low income (and there are many) you will find no legal aid, citizens advice, no free or low fee barristers, no win no

    fee lawyers who didn't want to know - most things most people on a basic income would be entitled to - I was always told, the reason was due to

    being a landlord - as rental income is considered a second income so we were literally on our own. 

    Again I'd highly recommend BLM solicitors anti fraud team based in Manchester who helped us when no one else would.

    We do need to be extremely careful but from my experience, I feel there needs to be more legal support for landlords in general that doesn't

    always result in hefty legal fees. - and I mean more than just an hour on the phone.




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    I agree with Angela

    I`m not  sure how this added layer of bureaucracy will help

    We  already have a state funded system to prosecute LL`s on behalf of the tenants at no cost to them

    And surely they can always take out a private prosecution anyway if they feel that strongly

    Just get a private inspection and serve their own notice

    I hope the government will look at  affording  the same rights and assistance to their own council tenants for the appalling state of some council properties.

    When I asked for the EHO to visit and inspect a council owned flat above mine as there was some horrible rust  coloured  liquid   dripping through and I received anecdotal evidence of it being ridden with damp they declined saying that was not on their job remit. There appears to be no independent inspector whose job it is to put their own council houses in order whilst there remains a system to inspect the PRS . This is not equality

    The HHSRS is not perfect by any means but its a workable structure which just requires a boost to the numbers trained up in it to inspect and prosecute if required

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    Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com

    I feel so strongly about this too and agree with you 100%

    The fact that some of the now deceased Grenfell victims went so far as to set up a protest group in an attempt to get the council to listen to their

    concerns about fire safety which went ignored for years and that the councils are the ones who regulate PRS is simply taking the pee.

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    So you support the bill?

    It allows tenants to sue councils as well as private LLs.

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    I don't think Councils can be compared to private landlords who are often financially very vulnerable and unlike large groups or businesses they need more support

    in general. 


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    I have a guest house in Spain. The place is magnificent. 90% of guests who stay leave happy, yet once a year there is always one person who is out for trouble no fault of mine. 

    I have had on a few occasions people taking close up pictures of a broken roof tile or dirt trapped down between sliding doors etc..

    These pictures are very damning and impossible to argue but give a totally false representation of the state of the property. I dont care how perfect your property is you can always find faults with close up pictures. This is the worry where vindictive compensation incentivised tenants can take these pictures at court leaving a perfectly acceptable property and LLs very vulnerable!! 

    My thinking is make sure your places are good, make sure you take video inventory with the tenant on moving in and get them to say on video that they are very satisfied with the state of the property. Make sure you are members of your local council LLs association and do anything to build your local reputation as a good fit and proper LL. All these measures will be vital if you find yourself having to defend a tenant claim.

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    It all sounds Good ??? words are cheep

    The regs we have now allow for the issues

    we  don't need another layer We need the council to enforce the rules we have Now

    They don't have the staff to do the job and that's the problem

    another sound bite

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    Learn Change and Adapt ?????