As the years roll by….

MHCLG have issued their consultation on ‘Overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector’. The closing date is 26 August 2018.

You may have seen this trailed as bringing in three year term assured shorthold tenancies. It may be, but legislating for that is only one of the options canvassed, others include financial incentives for landlords to offer longer tenancies and the always popular ‘education and guidance’.

The main proposal is a three year term with a six month ‘break clause’ for both parties. After that, tenant can give notice at any stage, but during the term, the landlord can only serve notice on Housing Act 1988 Schedule 2 grounds, to which may be added ‘selling the property’ or ‘LL moving into the property themselves’.

There are questions posed about rent increases (if any), notice periods and possible exclusions for students or similar where a long term may be inappropriate.

There is also mention of a ‘call for evidence’ later in the year on how the courts and tribunals handle housing matters, with MHCLG apparently working ‘closely with the judiciary’, and mention again of a putative housing court. We’ll see where that one goes, because my view is that if it looks like it might cost the MoJ money (and it certainly would) it will be a non-starter.

Nonetheless, the consultation is very interesting and people should respond. Intriguingly, there is a question on the effectiveness of the ‘retaliatory eviction’ provisions, which didn’t really need to be in there. I rather hope this heralds a review of those provisions, because they have been (as my consultation response will point out) rather pointless, due to the specific trigger factor.

About Giles Peaker

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, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Assured Shorthold tenancy, Housing law - All.

8 Comments

  1. Clearly where tenants share bathroom, kitchen (or other rooms) with tenants on a separate AST, landlords needs an effective way to deal with disputes between the tenants, and to remove a single tenant that is making the other tenants not happy.

    The S8 system does not work, due to court delays, and the other tenants often not being willing to give evidence. Hence without something radical, if the 3 year tenancy come in for HMOs, it may be the end of HMOs rented on a per room bases.

    Is the aim of this government to make it impossible for people to quickly move to where the work is…….

    • Ian, ‘dealing with disputes between tenants’ is not a landlord’s statutory duty or obligation. It was also not a reason or purpose for the existence of section 21 – for all that s.21 may be used for that. I acknowledge the good management point, but section 8 exists (and according to the MOJ figures on possession claims, usually doesn’t take much longer than a s.21 possession – even via accelerated procedure!).

      I really don’t think that legislation should be predicated on the courts being under funded and under staffed. That does not give rise to good law.

      And the proposal is that tenants can give notice within the 3 year term, so there is no particular issue with moving relatively quickly.

  2. The issue is that the “good” tenants will just all give notice and leave if the landlord does not remove the “bad” tenant. Think about for example one tenant that leaves porn in the kitchen and makes sexual remarks all the time, something the police will not take action one, but the landlord has a duty to the other tenants to sort out.

    The problem with S8, is that people living in the same home will often not give evidence, as they risk the response of the bad tenant. Hence it will just lead to a very high turnover of other tenants, all who are having their life’s messed up due to one bad tenant the landlord can not remove.

    • Ian, as I said, I understand the practicalities, but in the example you give, section 8 is an option.

      (The landlord doesn’t have a duty to other tenants to sort it out. There is no such duty. It may be good practice, but it is not a duty).

      Legislation based on one specific situation and one specific set of hypotheticals is not good legislation. That is a general rule that holds up well. One can’t reasonably legislate on the basis that witnesses will be refuse to give evidence, for example.

  3. But legislation can be different for when people are renting “by the room” in a house with shared kitchen and bathroom, then it is for a family renting a long term self constrained home.

    • Oh it could. But would need a strong justification as to why some people get lesser rights. ‘You can’t afford a place of your own’ is not a great justification.

  4. But does these rights not include a tenants right to live in a well run HMO?

    Also local councils witb licensing schemes and otherwise consider landlords to be responsible for the actions of the tenants in hmo. Hence landlords must have all the tools necessary to keep to the licensing conditions.

    • A tenant doesn’t have a right to live in a well run HMO. They might have a hope, or an expectation, but not a right.

      Council enforcement obviously has to factor in what is available to the landlord – s.8 in that case.

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