Assistance for Tenants In Difficulties

The following are all willing to assist tenants in difficulties, whether due to Covid-19 or ‘more normal’ problems.

Applications for assistance should be made by the tenant with or without support from the landlord.

Citizens AdviceTel: 01752 850488
Cornwall Council Benefits Department
(Includes requests for Discretionary Housing Payments). 
Tel:  0300 1234 100
Cornwall HousingTel: 0300 1234 161
Inclusion CornwallTel: 01872 326440
Nos Da KernowTel: 0300 1234 161 

Find out more >>

Electrical Regulations – Apply to ALL New Tenancies (including renewals) from 1 JUNE 2020

There has been a lot of confusion surrounding the government guidance on 5 yearly electrical inspections and implementation dates.

Original guidance was for the regulations to apply to new tenancies from 1 July 2020, updated guidance stated tenancies which began ON or AFTER 1 June 2020 were included (even though this guidance came out in the middle of June).

MCHLG has confirmed to the NRLA

  • The regulations apply to tenancies granted from 1 June 2020.
  • The requirement to provide an EICR or similar applies from 1 July 2020.
  • This means that any tenancies granted from 1 June 2020 will be required to have an EICR or similar from 1 July 2020, there is a grace period of one month for tenancies granted from 1 June 2020.

The regulations will continue to be rolled out to all existing tenancies in England from April 2021.

If your tenancy agreement DOES NOT include a clause specifying how the tenancy will continue after the end of the fixed term are ‘statutory periodic’ tenancies you will need to have an inspection undertaken.  If you are unsure, get one done anyway.

If one of your tenancies began or renewed anytime in June, you should write to your tenant(s) explaining the situation and requesting permission for access for the inspection to take place at the earliest opportunity.  Make it clear in that letter that the tenant can refuse access if isolating or shielding due to Covid-19. 

If the tenant does not reply the landlord should make further attempts, in writing, and keep copies of all correspondence. 

If the tenant refuses permission keep copies of correspondence and make regular attempts to negotiate entry with the tenant.  Some tenants may prefer to arrange access with the electrician, but do not permit the tenant to specify the electrician to be used.

Find out more >>

Three judges say landlords can serve a Section 21 notice even if a gas safety certificate has been issue after they move in, but the comment leave the door open for an appeal and likely Supreme Court hearing.

The Court of Appeal has handed down judgement on the contentious Trecarrell House vs Patricia Rouncefield case and has backed landlords

Both sides in the case sought to clarify if landlords can serve a Section 21 eviction notice on a tenant when a Gas Safety Certificate has been served after a tenancy has begun.

A valid certificate is one of several pieces of paperwork landlords must give tenants before they move into a property in order to enable a later valid Section 21 eviction.

Tenant Patricia Rouncefield has sought to clarify this important point of law after her landlord Trecarrell House attempted to serve a S21 notice on her despite having provided a Gas Safety Certificate after her tenancy began

Three judges, Lord Justices Patten, King and Moylan, have this morning passed judgement in this case following the hearing in January during which evidence was presented from both sides.

Gas safety certificate

Rouncefield’s property had a valid gas certificate both before and during her tenancy but she was not given a copy prior to or when she moved in During February 2017. She was served with a Section 21 notice on 1st May 2018.

The judges each gave their own commentary on the case but agreed that ‘as long as the [Gas Safety certificate] is provided to the tenant prior to service of the section 21, the notice will be valid’.

In the commentary on the decision, the lead judge said: “It is difficult to reconcile this interpretation of the law with legislation which would appear to be aimed at ensuring the safety of tenants.

“Similarly, I find it hard to balance this interpretation with the actual wording of regulation 36(6)(b) of the 1998 Regulations which states that the GSR needs to be given to any new tenant “before that tenant occupies those premises.

“I would agree with Moylan LJ’s characterisation of the majority finding: late service of the GSR for the purposes of 36(6)(b) becomes a mere “procedural requirement” rather than a “substantive sanction”.

Industry reaction

Tim Frome, Head of Legal at Landlord Action, says: “We’ve been waiting with baited breath for this decision from the Court of Appeal and on the face of it the news is fantastic for landlords such that, due to an admin error, they can’t be prevented from serving a Section 21 notice.

“This judgement may be further appealed, but as long as a certificate is served before a S21 notice then that will be sufficient.

“At Landlord Action we have a small percentage of cases where this problem has arisen and our clients will be heaving a huge sigh of relief.”

John Stewart, Deputy Policy Director for the NRLA, which supported Trecarrell House during the initial stages of the case, says: “We welcome the clarity that today’s ruling brings for the sector. Going forward, however, ministers remain committed to eventually getting rid of Section 21 altogether.

“We have been campaigning to ensure that such moves are only made within the context of improvements to the way courts handle cases and clear, comprehensive and timely routes for landlords to repossess properties in legitimate circumstances.

“We are heartened therefore that the Housing Minister has made clear that such changes will only be made “in a considered manner” and not as an immediate response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

From Landlord Zone

We feel sure the landlords in this case would want to welcome the many others who have supported them in this case.

We continue to advise landlords to ensure all paperwork, including gas certificates, is provided to a potential tenant when viewing a property.

A list of the paperwork can be found on the CRLA Website, in the Members Area.  Look on the Download Information for Landlords page or contact Ruth Clarke for a copy.

Find out more >>

Updated guidance released today by MHCLG

Also guidance on evicting tenants.

If you need to evict a tenant please read this guidance from MHCLG first.
Also a good read for anyone thinking of granting a tenancy, this will help you avoid some pitfalls

Find out more >>

This is how it ends, not with a bang but a viewing.If I am honest, this is not how I anticipated the apocalypse to look. The streets deserted apart from roving estate agents, dead eyes above the mask, looking for someone, anyone, to force into a viewing in an enclosed space.

But that is what the Government has given us with the forthcoming Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020. Under the revised list of reasonable excuses to leave where you are living are:

(l) to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property—
(i) visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;
(ii) viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;
(iii) preparing a residential property to move in;
(iv) moving home;
(v) visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property;”;

(l)(v) would seem to cover a lot of ground, including, as someone suggested to me, a visit by bailiffs for eviction. Or maybe an attendance for repairs during a tenancy.  But there we are. Fancy a move? Off you go to look at properties, accompanied at a safe distance by your estate agent in a decorating mask.

Given that the Secretary of State for Housing has apparently said that whether the ban on evictions would be extended was reliant on ‘medical evidence’, one might start to see a picture coming together. Let loose the letting agents! Let them roam the silenced streets!

Still, (l)(ii) needs prompt clarification. Does this extend to viewings of tenanted properties? If so, what, exactly is the safe procedure and requirements? How many strangers turning up should tenants put up with? If any?

What if the tenant (or anyone in the household) is self isolating, or in a vulnerable category? Because, let us be honest, as a class letting agents are not known for the subtlety, accuracy and thoughtfulness with which they interpret rules.

From Nearly Legal

Find out more >>