Housing management issues you may have missed or forgotten!
With a New Year upon us and the area of residential landlord and tenant developing at such a pace, detailed below are some developments which you may not be aware of or you may have forgotten.
- The Court of Appeal decision in the case of Cardiff County Council v Lee (Flowers) in October 2016 made it abundantly clear that where a landlord wishes to apply for a Warrant of Possession due to a tenant's failure to comply with a Suspended Possession Order (SPO), the permission of the Court must be obtained first.
On 21 December 2016 the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) published Court form N325A - Request for Warrant for Possession of land following a suspended order for possession. This form is to be used where a landlord is seeking to enforce a SPO based on rent arrears. The MOJ also issued a fresh version of form N445 – re-issue of a warrant.
Forms N325A and N445, both state “(3) a statement of the payments due and made under the judgment or order is attached to this request”. This means that all a landlord has to do is attach a rent statement evidencing the alleged breach(es) of the SPO and pay a Court fee, currently £121.N325A negates the need for a separate N244 application for permission and payment of a further Court fee to be paid. When reissuing a warrant no fee is payable if the request is being made within 12 months of a warrant being suspended.
The position regarding SPOs made in anti-social behaviour cases is less clear. Hence, landlords should continue to make a N244 application and once permission has been granted, then should apply for a warrant. This process will attract the payment of
two Court fees. However, it is hoped the Civil Procedure Rules Committee will imminently review this situation with a view to providing clarity.
- New section 8 NSP introduced with effect from 1 December 2016 which incorporates mandatory Ground 7B enabling landlords to recover possession where a tenant does not have the Right to Rent. These changes apply in England only.
- Since 1 September 2012 squatting in residential accommodation has been a criminal offence under Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. If you believe someone is squatting in residential accommodation contact the police as there is no need for possession proceedings to be issued. Note squatting in commercial property is not a criminal offence.
- Serious offences for the purposes of relying upon mandatory Ground 7A for assured tenants (or under section 84A of the Housing Act 1985 for secure tenants) are detailed in Schedule 2A of the Housing Act 1985.
- In his Autumn Statement, Philip Hammond, made a surprise announcement that letting agent fees to tenants in England are going to be banned. It is expected consultation regarding the ban, which is expected to come into force in 12 – 18 months' time, will be announced soon. He also announced the introduction of the Voluntary Right to Buy is to be delayed until April 2018 and the existing pilot is to be extended.
- When drafting witness statements consideration should be given to CPR 32 and its practice direction. Remember to include a Statement of Truth at the end, see CPR 22.