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Good News – Important Amendments to Housing & Planning Bill

Watch this Space!

Some good news on the Housing & Planning Bill!  At the end of the Committee hearing on 10th December 2015, the Committee has confirmed that the 3 year fixed term tenancy provision for landlords who are not Registered Providers; the HMO amendment; the regular electrical testing and the fit for habitation provisions have been withdrawn or not agreed! Phew!!

The phasing out of life time secure tenancies has been agreed to on division.

Watch this space to see if there are any more updates after the Committee report back to the Commons on 5th January 2016.

Over the last couple of days (8th & 9th December 2015) MPs have ‘quietly’ slipped in the following amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill which it is anticipated will come into effect next year:

  1. Council tenants lose lifetime right to live in property and changes to succession rules – People will no longer have the right to live in their council home for life. Future tenancies granted by Local Authorities will generally have to be for a fixed term of 2 to 5 years and will not automatically be renewed. There will be exceptions to this. Towards the end of the term, a review will be carried out and the landlord will decide whether to grant a new tenancy or recover possession. The amendment will not apply retrospectively to current secure tenants.

Changes to Succession Rights – If a person other than a spouse or partner inherits a periodic secure tenancy, it will be converted into a 5 year fixed term tenancy. If the tenancy is a fixed term tenancy, and the successor is somebody other than a spouse or partner, the tenancy will not be automatically renewed when the fixed term expires.

Need to watch this space to see if similar comparable provisions are added for assured tenancies!!

  1. Private sector landlords to be prevented from using a Section 21 Notice for the first 3 years of a tenancy, although this will not affect the rights of the tenant to give notice to end the tenancy early. The amendment means that on or after 1st April 2018 landlords who are not Registered Providers must grant Assured Shorthold Tenancies for a fixed term of at least 36 months. There will also be an implied term in these types of tenancies that the tenant may terminate the tenancy by giving two months’ written notice to the landlord at any time.
  2. Implied term of fitness for human habitation – a new duty on landlords to ensure that all their properties are fit for habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and remain fit during the course of the tenancy – Section 8 and 10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 will be amended accordingly.
  3. A new duty on landlords to carry out electrical safety checks within 12 months of letting a property and intervals of no more than 5 years thereafter. Failure to comply with the safety check and providing a copy of the record made to existing tenants and any new tenant is a criminal offence and a landlord will be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.
  4. Description of HMO’s widened – The new clause removes the three storeys criteria.

The Housing and Planning Bill is currently at Committee stage. The Committee is expected to finish reviewing the Bill on 10th December 2015 and is due back in the Commons for its report stage on 5thJanuary 2016. If you wish to keep up to date with the progress of the bill, please visit: Housing & Planning Bill web page.

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