Welcome to the Friday Newsround. We start with an important legal case
Trecarrel v. Roucefield – the landlord wins
This case followed on from the earlier case of Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz where it was held that a failure to serve the gas safety certificate on tenants before they moved in was fatal to any claim the landlord might want to make later under section 21.
In Trecarrel, the landlord appealed successfully, with 2 out of 3 Appeal Judges finding that a section 21 notice could be served, so long as the gas safety certificate was served first.
John Stewart, Deputy Policy Director for the NRLA said:
We welcome the clarity that today’s ruling brings for the sector.
Going forward however, ministers remain committed to eventually getting rid of Section 21 altogether.
We have been campaigning to ensure that such moves are only made within the context of improvements to the way courts handle cases and clear, comprehensive and timely routes for landlords to repossess properties in legitimate circumstances.
We are heartened therefore that the Housing Minister has made clear that such changes will only be made “in a considered manner” and not as an immediate response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This may not be the end of the story though as it seems that an appeal is being considered.
The main reason for this litigation was sloppy drafting and I was interested to see from twitter that Parliamentary Counsel have now published a new draft of their drafting guidance.
Let’s hope they follow it. It is simply wrong that people are forced to spend thousands and wait for months or even years to resolve issues which should never have been problematic in the first place – and would not have been had the legislation had been drafted properly.
The other big news story this week is the sorry saga of Grenfell and we have had several reports marking the third anniversary of the fire.
The Inquiry, which has had to suspend hearings due to Coronavirus, has published an update on its work and it is hoped that limited attendance hearings can be resumed from 6 July.
However, it is not just Cornavirus which has delayed the Inquiry. As is reported in the Guardian:
In January, one of two panellists appointed by the government to advise the inquiry was forced to step down. Benita Mehra was revealed by the Guardian to have run an organisation that received a grant linked to one of the contractors on the refurbishment. Then the hearings were paused for most of February while witnesses sought assurances from the attorney general, Suella Braverman, that their oral evidence would not be used against them in any future prosecutions.
However, the Inquiry evidence has already
revealed that the fire engineers on the refurbishment, Exova, knew that the cladding would fail in the event of a fire, while the architects, Studio E, lacked relevant experience and believed they would not have won the contract had it been put out to tender. In an email, Jane Trethewey, the housing strategy and regeneration manager at Kensington and Chelsea council, said that Grenfell was “one of its worst property assets” and recladding would “prevent it looking like a poor cousin.
The main hope was that steps would be put in place to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. Many buildings have had the dangerous cladding replaced – a MHCLG report here found that as at 31 May 2020
- There were 155 high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings in England that had completed remediation works to remove and replace Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding systems – an increase of six since the end of April.
- Overall, 209 buildings had either completed remediation or had had their ACM cladding systems removed, 46 per cent of all identified buildings.
- There were 300 high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet building regulations yet to be remediated in England. Of these, 140 buildings had started remediation, including 54 buildings that had had their ACM cladding systems removed.
- The Social Sector ACM Cladding Remediation Fund had approved £270 million of funding for the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM.
- The Private Sector ACM Cladding Remediation Fund had approved £33 million for the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM.
However, the Commons Select Committee on Housing, Communities and Local Government has found that there are still 2,000 high-risk residential buildings with some form of dangerous cladding; properties have become unmortgageable and unsellable; and many residents continue to pay hundreds of pounds a month for waking fire watches and face bills of tens of thousands of pounds for remedial work fix fire safety issues.
In their report, they conclude £1 billion will not be sufficient to remediate all 1,700 buildings with combustible non-ACM cladding above 18 metres and call for further work and funding.
Confusion over Electrical Regulations start dates
It seems that yesterday afternoon (18 June 2020) amended guidance was published for the new Electrical Regulations which case some confusion on the tenancies which will be affected as of 1 July 2020.
You will find the details in this article from Property Industry Eye.
However, as Eye point out, this is only guidance and the regulations themselves state:
1.—(1) These Regulations may be cited as the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.
(2) These Regulations come into force on 1st June 2020.
(3) These Regulations apply in England only to—
(a) all new specified tenancies from 1st July 2020; and
(b) all existing specified tenancies from 1st April 2021.
Hopefully, this will be resolved shortly.
Second banning order
Several years since banning orders were created we have now had the second one. It sounds very well deserved but surely there are more than two rogue landlords who deserve to be banned?
- Tax barrister reports 285% uplift in stamp duty refund claims
- Rents reach highest recorded figure – Office for National Statistics
- NAPIT issues fresh electrical safety guidance for landlords and inspectors
- Estate agent directors disqualified for roles in illegal cartel
- Work begins on property logbooks to speed up conveyancing
- Tenants demand is for outdoor space – Belvoir
- New report calls for ‘rent arrears’ evictions to be suspended AFTER pandemic is over
- 77% of landlords say their tenants can afford to continue paying rent during lockdown – but the survey was of just 200 landlords
- 15% of tenants are in rent arrears but a third are trying to clear their debt
- Injunctions are not the answer to anti-social tenants during evictions ban, industry tells minister
Newsround will be back next week.