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Private Rented Sector - March Newsletter 
Homes Act Guidance

We are pleased to announce that we have published our guidance on the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. We have produced three individually tailored guides - one for tenants, one for landlords and one for local authorities.  

Under the Act, if a landlord fails to comply with the obligation to ensure their property is fit for human habitation, their tenants will have the right to take court action for breach of contract.  

For tenants, the guidance will help them make use of their rights under the Act. For landlords and local authorities, the guidance will ensure they are aware of what the Act means for them.  

It is important to note that the Act will not create any additional burdens for landlords or confer any new responsibilities onto local authorities. The Act complements the range of powers and tools local authorities have to tackle poor quality housing and will help drive up standards in private rented accommodation.  

The Act comes into force on 20 March 2019. 

The guides can be found here

Park Homes

As you may know, the PRS Division has responsibility for residential park homes and In November, Ministers committed to a range of actions to address problems in this sector: you can read more about this here. When Parliamentary time allows, we will bring forward legislation to address financial exploitation and abuse of residents, for example through a fit and proper person test for site owners and preventing residents’ security of tenure being limited by complex site ownership structures. We are also using non-legislative means to achieve improvements. We are working with the Site Licensing Officers Forum to help support and promote enforcement best practice and have established a Park Homes Working Group to improve the communication of rights and responsibilities across the sector.

Housing Court Call for Evidence

Our Call for Evidence to consider the case for a Housing Court closed at the end of January. We received over 700 responses and held two stakeholder events to hear people’s views directly. We are currently analysing responses ahead of publishing a Government response in due course. The Call for Evidence document is available to view here

Client Money Protection
 
From 1 April 2019, it is a legal requirement for all property agents in the private rented sector in England to join a government-approved Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme to protect their clients’ money while it is in their possession – with fines of up to £30,000 if they fail to do so.
 
To date, the Government has approved the following schemes for letting and property management agents in the private rented sector:
The Government is considering other applications.

Licensing - Brown v Hyndburn Borough Council

We would like to bring to your attention the outcome of this legal case, which is about the conditions that can be imposed in selective licensing schemes, as it is likely to have an impact on your licensing work. You may wish to consider reviewing your licensing conditions in light of this important decision.

If you would like more information or background on the case please contact a member of the licensing team.

Sarah Amer (team leader) sarah.amer@communities.gov.uk
Connor Power connor.power@communities.gov.uk
Saybah Hoque nusaybah.hoque@communities.gov.uk
Brendan Collins brendan.collins@communities.gov.uk

 
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