Welcome to 2010! At this time of the year speculation inevitably turns to how things will shape up in the next 12 months. Therefore we have decided to take give a brief run-down of expected events in the residential landlord and tenant sector this year.
Legislation-wise it is likely to be a quiet beginning to the year. The election expected in early May or June means that little or no primary legislation is likely to be enacted and anything that is put before Parliament is only likely to carry on past June is Labour wins the election. Speculation on what other parties will introduce if they win is largely pointless.
However, there are some changes that can be made without the introduction of primary legislation and, following the now established pattern we can expect some new Statutory Instruments to be introduced in early April.
Already on the cards is an increase in the maximum rent threshold of Housiung Act 1988 tenancies from the current £25,000 per annum to a figure in teh region of £100,000. A change of this nature was suggested in the Rugg review and was flagged in the Government’s response.
This change will have a significant impact on the residential lettings sector in central London, where a number of properties exceed this threshold as well as on some student areas as many student HMO properties also exceed this limit. The key change will be that many more of these properties will fall within the realms of the Tenancy Deposit Protection regime introduced by the Housing Act 2004. This will undoubtedly lead to a further surge in litigation in respect of unprotected deposits as well as an increased workload for the three protection schemes.
Also expected is a change in the Mobile Homes Act 1983 which will remove some fact-finding aspects from the Courts and transfer them to the Residential Property Tribunal Service. We highlighted and commented on this just before Christmas.
Elsewhere in the UK, the Scottish assembly has made clear its desire to intorduce a Scottish equivalent to Tenancy Deposit Protection and the regulations to make this happen will no doubt appear before the year is out. In Northern Ireland, a draft Housing Bill has been put forward for further consultation following a an earlier consultation in the latter part of 2009 and this will probably see further activity before year’s end.
In the Courts, the OFT v Foxtons case will rumble on, with Foxtons having now appealed the original decision. More on that here.
Tenancy Deposit Protection will also continue to see the County Courts and there are at least two appeals headed for Courts of record as well. PainSmith has a case in the High Court near the end of January and another case is listed for the Court of Appeal in the spring.
In other areas it is likely that there will be a continued drive by Local Housing Authorities toward extending the licensing of HMOs and other properties under their powers in the Housing Act 2004 and this will, doubtless, keep the Residential Property Tribunal busy.
So there it is. Some small but significant changes in England and Wales. Potentially large upheavals in Scotland and Northern Ireland and some important issues for the Courts to contend with. It will be interesting at the end of the year to see what happened that we did not expect!