Housing and Planning Act 2016 – changes for landlords and property agents

Senior Associate Solicitor Daniela Catuara

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduces a range of housing reforms, most of which apply to houses in England. This includes changes providing that:

  • Rogue landlords and letting agents may be subject to banning orders and their details entered into a local authority database.
  • Landlords can recover abandoned premises without a court order provided that they serve various warning notices.
  • Local authorities can access tenancy deposit information. This will enable them to take enforcement action where a property is unlawfully let as a house in multiple occupation.
  • The Secretary of State can make regulations imposing duties on a private landlord of residential premises in England to ensure that electrical safety standards are met.
  • The Secretary of State can make regulations requiring property agents to be members of a client money protection scheme.

The provisions come into force on separate dates. Relevant regulations are yet to be made.

Three of the most notable provisions are:

1. Banning orders

Local Housing Authorities in England can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for banning orders against a residential landlord or property agent who has been convicted of a “banning offence”. The definition of a banning offence is to be provided by the Secretary of State. Banning orders will prevent a person from:

  • Letting housing in England.
  • Engaging in English letting-agency work.
  • Engaging in English property-management work.

Banning orders will last for at least 12 months. A breach is punishable by imprisonment or a fine of up to £30,000. A banned person may also not hold a licence for a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

2. Recovering abandoned premises

There is now an out-of-court procedure that landlords can follow to recover possession of an abandoned property. The procedure only applies to:

  • Properties in England.
  • Assured shorthold tenancies.
  • Tenants who are in arrears of rent.

The procedure starts with the landlord issuing a series of warning notices. If no tenant, named occupier or deposit payer responds in writing to any of the warning notices before the date specified in the notices, the landlord can then serve a notice bringing the tenancy to an end on the date the notice is given.

Landlords should bear in mind that tenants can apply for their tenancy to be reinstated in some circumstances.

3. Electrical Safety

The Act entitles the Secretary of State to make regulations requiring a landlord to pay a penalty for failing to comply with electrical safety standards and to give power to local authorities to enter premises (with the tenant’s consent) to carry out appropriate remedial works.

Expert legal advice on landlord and tenant matters

For expert legal advice on landlord and tenant matters contact Senior Associate Solicitor Daniela Catuara:

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