Important legal update for landlords and those involved in property disputes

Important legal update for landlords and those involved in property disputes

This article was published on: 24th April 2020

Here is our round-up of the key new measures introduced, so far, in March/April 2020

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Regulations

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Regulations (“MEEs Regs”) have come into force and now apply to all tenancies including periodic and existing. All rental properties have to have an EPC rating of E or above. Any properties with an exemption to the MEEs Regs must be filed so as to avoid penalties.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act (“The Act”) introduced protection for tenants under all existing tenancies as well as new ones.  The Act has strengthened tenants’ means of redress against landlords who are not fulfilling their repairing obligations. The categories of repair are found under the Housing Health and Safety Regulations 2005, which details 29 hazards, and Section 10 of the Landlord and Tenancy Act 1985. The Act removes the need for tenants to contact their local Authority and allows tenants to issue proceedings directly with the court instead. Tenants can still contact their Local Authority if they wish to.

The Coronavirus Act 2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 has brought about a huge amount of change in legislation in the past month, including:

  • A 90 day stay on all eviction proceedings (both new and ongoing) which prevents possession hearings from taking place until the end of June at the earliest.
  • The notice period for Section 8 notices, Section 21 notices and notices to quit has been extended to 3 months.
  • There is a ban on forfeiture of all commercial properties based on rent arrears.
  • Homeowners and buy to let landlords are entitled to 3-month mortgage holidays.

New court procedures

A number of new Practice Directions have been introduced including:

  • Practice Direction 51A which will enable that parties to agree extensions of court deadlines of up to 56 days without having to apply to court, provided this does not affect a hearing date. This new rule ends 30 October 2020.
  • Practice Direction 51Z imposes on automatic stay on most types of possession proceedings, including claims against tenants and homeowners, until at least 27 June 2020. This will not apply to claims against trespassers.
  • Practice Direction 51Y empowers the court to hold private video and audio hearings in private (hearings are normally held in public). The court may not conduct a remote hearing where arrangements can be made for the media to access the hearing – instead, this will be held in public. The court may direct the hearing to be recorded and if so, an application to the court can be made for permission to access the recording.
  • Practice Direction 51R enabled judges to consider directions in online money claims, online. Claims will not automatically be transferred to the Defendant’s home court.
  • All witness statements and statements of truth must now include a signed statement confirming that the person signing understands that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against them if a false statement is made without honest belief that it is true.
  • The method by which a witness statement is taken (e.g. face to face, via telephone, Skype or email) must now be included within the statement and the statement must be in the witness’ own words.

Author: Rebecca Parker, Paralegal

Share this post