14/01/2014

Incoming – bedroom tax and more.

Busy day for bits of news.

On the bedroom tax, Lord Freud announced in a House of Lords debate today that amending regulations to remove the 1996 claim exemption will be produced in March, though they haven’t got definite parliamentary time yet. (Not got a permanent Hansard link yet)

Lord Freud:

My Lords, I can tell the noble Lord that the numbers involved in this anomaly are small and the amounts are modest. We have put guidance out to local authorities and we intend to regularise the matter through regulations in March.

I have received another bedroom tax First Tier Tribunal appeal decision, from Liverpool. This is a successful appeal on the issue of room size, with two rooms held to be too small to be used as a bedroom and under-occupancy being the ‘flip side’ of overcrowding, such that the Housing Act 1985 rooms size provisions were relevant. Details and copy of the decision on the FTT decision page under Liverpool.

I have also heard of an FTT decision on the Zambrano eligibility regulations. (For a quick history on the Zambrano cases and regs, see here). Intriguingly, this was apparently a successful appeal on the basis that the regulations were incompatible with EU law.  More or this when I get it.

In an odd announcement, reported by the RLA, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (no, me neither) have released a report on private sector landlords failing to carry out urgent repairs, well, urgently. According to the report,

34 per cent of private tenants have faced a home emergency in the past 12 months; only one in three were dealt with on the same day while almost a quarter took more than a week to resolve.

The AIIC provided a helpful list of timeframes for urgent works.

  • Landlords and agents have a duty of care to advise tenants on the correct course of action while contractors are organised, such as turning off gas taps, water stop cocks or main electricity supplies, to ensure that any problem does not cause danger to life and property.

  • Any gas or major electrical fault is classed as urgent and should be attended to within 24 hours or less. This also applies when heating or hot water is affected, especially during cold weather.

  • Water leaks – within 24 hours

  • Cookers – within 48 hours

  • Other broken appliances – washing machines, dish washers etc should be attended to within 72 hours.

  • Communication is key and the landlord or agent should keep the tenant informed of the action taken to solve the problem that has been reported.

Unsurprisingly, this has not gone down well with commenters at ‘Letting Agent Today’.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

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