Section 8 and Section 13 Notices
As from 6th April 2015 new forms have been prescribed for certain notices. Those affecting our client base the most are Section 8 and Section 13 of the housing Act 1988 (as amended 1996).

Under The Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England)Regulations 2015 you need to be aware that if you intend to serve one of these notices it must be in the new format or it will be invalid.

Changes have been made to the guidance notes.
With regards to the Section 8 Notice it takes into account the fact that two new grounds (Grounds 7A and 14A) have been enacted.
For the section 13 notices it is to update them to provide that the forum for referring any rent not agreed is the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) which now undertakes the functions of the Rent Assessment Committee.

Court Fees
Just last year we saw an increase in court fees and earlier this month, it was announced by HM Courts and Tribunals Service that many Court fees will be significantly increased.
As from March 9th, the fees for possession proceedings were further increased by £75 with the fees for claims issued via the Court’s Possession Claims Online (PCOL) system rising from £250 to £325 and the fee for paper based claims to rise from £280 to £355.
The area that has seen the biggest change are money claims as follows:-: •The fee for claims from £1 – £9,999 will remain unchanged;
•The fee for claims from £10,000 – £199,999 will now be five per cent of the claim; and
•The fee for claims £200,000 and above will be fixed at £10,000.

The Immigration Act 2014 – Update
Last week on the workshop we ran in Leeds one of the questions related to “short-term” visas. This question was answered during Parliamentary questions when MP James Brokenshire was responding to MP Jeremy Corbyn, who asked about non-EEA residents trying to rent, but who entered the UK on temporary documents and would be awaiting a biometric residence permit.
“People issued with a 30-day visa to enter the UK in advance of collecting their biometric residence permit will be able to evidence their right to rent using their short-term visa, and the landlord will then need to conduct a follow-up check after 12 months, at which point the migrant will be able to evidence any continued lawful immigration status using their biometric residence permit.” and Mr Brokenshire gave no hint as to when the current ‘right to rent’ pilot scheme will be rolled out nationally.

Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Alarms
One of the most frequent questions we encounter on the advice line and on training courses relates to smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Finally, after years of conflicting information, the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in all rental properties within the private rented sector and social housing, is to be made compulsory.

Communities minister Penny Mordaunt announced the move at the Local Government Association annual fire conference yesterday, following years of campaigning which was led by the Chief Fire Officers Association. Landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, a move that will help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year.
The measure is expected to take effect from October 2015, and comes with strong support after a consultation on property condition in the private rented sector.
England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities are expected to support private landlords in their own areas to meet their new responsibilities with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government.
This is part of wider government moves to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety, while at the same time avoiding regulation which would push up rents and restrict the supply of homes, limiting choice for tenants.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “In 1988 just 8% of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now it’s over 90%. The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection.
But with working smoke alarms providing the vital seconds needed to escape a fire, I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts. Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility.”
The proposed changes to the law would require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy.
Landlords would also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.
Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms would face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.
This would bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations that already require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.

For further information about any of the matters referred to in this newsletter contact Susie or John on the dedicated Advice Line number or