LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

ARLA and RLA comment on Tenancies (Reform) Bill

ARLA and RLA comment on Tenancies (Reform) Bill

Both the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have aired their views about the Tenancies (Reform) Bill which has its second reading in Parliament tomorrow (Friday).

The RLA has produced a summary of the bill here.

The detail is as bad as the RLA feared, with restrictions proposed on section 21 notices even where only a “hazard awareness notice” has been issued by a council. Landlords will also be prevented from serving a section 21 notice where an improvement notice has been served relating to category 1 or category 2 Hazards under the HHSRS rating system, or where a property requires emergency remedial action.

Tenants will also be able to challenge section 21 notices where they have complained to the landlord or council before the notice was issued, but the council is still deciding whether to even inspect the property in question.

Landlords will not be allowed to serve a section 21 notice in the first four months of a tenancy.

The RLA warns that if passed, the Bill is likely to lead to a race between tenants seeking to lodge complaints about a property and landlords seeking to serve section 21 notices as soon as possible, each bidding to protect their interests. The RLA says this is “a recipe for poor tenant-landlords relations.”

ARLA managing director David Cox said that while ARLA agrees that the issue of retaliatory eviction needs to be addressed, and that it was broadly supportive of the principles behind the Bill, it has concerns.

“As they say however, the devil is in the detail and now that the Bill has been published we have concerns that it exposes landlords to frivolous and vexatious cases. For example, there is a risk that category 2 hazards could be created by tenants in arrears to avoid evictions. We are also concerned that in many blocks of flats and converted houses ‘common parts’ are not under the landlords control but are the freeholder’s responsibility. Therefore, it is not equitable for a landlord to be penalised for something that is outside their control. These clauses need further thought before we could welcome this Bill; as it stands, it will inevitably lead to unintended consequences.

“ARLA wants to see the issue of retaliatory eviction resolved once and for all, but we must ensure that any legislation designed to tackle this minority of rogue operators does not infringe or restrict the rights of professional landlords and agents or frustrate legitimate possession proceedings.”