Kit Malthouse – Responsibilities of the New Housing Minister

Yesterday saw the Housing Minister Dominic Rabb being promoted to Brexit Secretary, and Kit Malthouse being placed as the new housing minister. 

We also were advised that the ‘How to Rent’ booklet issued by Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on 26 June 2018 is now being superceded by a more ‘comprehensive’ version….  NALS stated  “The covers to both guides were almost identical and concerns were raised that this could cause real confusion and lead to some landlords and agents issuing the wrong How to Rent booklet. This is important because if a landlord or agent issues the wrong guide, they would be breaching the law and if necessary, would be unable to serve a section 21 notice.”

So what are the responsibilities of a Housing Minister, a landlord and a tenant?

The housing minister is responsible for:

  • Supporting the Housing Secretary on housing supply policy and delivery
  • Housing financing streams
  • Home ownership policy
  • Planning policy and casework oversight
  • Homes England sponsorship and performance
  • Building safety and regulations (including government response to the Hackitt review)
  • Land assembly and release, and Public Sector Land and Digital Land
  • Help to Buy
  • Quality and design
  • Grenfell recovery programme
  • Social Housing Green Paper

ANd the responsibilities of a landlord?

  •  You must protect your tenant’s deposit in a deposit protection scheme (government approved deposit scheme)
  •  You must provide your tenants with a copy of the How to Rent guide
  •  You must have a valid annual gas safety certificate and are responsible for carrying out gas safety checks annually and provide your tenant with a copy (must be performed by Gas Safe engineer)
  •  You must ensure electrical installations and appliances are safe
  •  You must carry out a Risk Assessment to assess the risk from exposure to Legionella
  •  installing smoke alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with appliances using solid fuels – such as coal and wood – and make sure they are working at the start of a tenancy.
  •  You must obtain a property licence (where necessary)
  •  You must have an EPC for your property (rated E or above from April 2018) and provide a copy to the tenant
  •  You must carry out right to rent checks
  •  You must ensure that furniture supplied has the required labels and fireproofing
  •  Make sure you keep records to ensure you have proof that you are following the necessary legal requirements
  • You should provide your tenant with a written tenancy agreement
  • Keep in repair and proper working order the supply of water, gas, electricity and heating
  • Keep the property safe and free from health hazards.
  • Maintain the structure and exterior of the property.
  • Carry out most repairs. If something is not working, ask your tenant to report it to you (or your agent) as soon as they can
  • Maintain any appliances and furniture you have supplied

You should also check:

  • your tax obligations as a landlord
  • You should consider joining a landlord accreditation scheme
  • You should check if the agent is a member of a professional body
  • You should check if the agent is a member of a redress scheme and client money protection scheme
  • You should make sure you are fully aware of all the fees your agent will charge you and your tenant and when
  • You should have a written agreement outlining the services your agent will provide and when
  • If you are renewing without agent advice, you should read the government guidance and consider legal advice on writing a tenancy agreement
  • Consider getting landlords’ insurance. Insure the building to cover the costs of any damage from flood or fire.

You must not unlawfully discriminate against a tenant or prospective tenant on the basis of their, disability, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation.

Banning orders and the database of rogue landlords
Local authorities have powers to apply for banning orders which ban landlords or property agents from letting housing in England, engaging in English letting agency work and/or property management work if they have been convicted of a banning order offence. Offences include failing to comply with a formal notice issued by the local authority requiring safety improvements and illegal evictions. Landlords or agents will be added to the database of rogue landlords and property agents if they receive a banning order. They can also be added to the database if they are convicted of a banning order offence or receive two or more civil penalties within a 12 month period.

And the RESPONSIBILITIES of a tenant?

A tenant must:

  • Pay the rent on time.
  • Pay any other bills that they are responsible for on time, such as council tax, gas, electricity and water bills. If a tenant pays the gas or electricity bills, they can choose their own energy supplier.
  • Look after the property. A tenant must get landlord permission before attempting repairs or decorating.
  • Be considerate to the neighbours. A tenant could be evicted for anti-social behaviour if they aren’t.
  • Not take in a lodger or sub-let without checking whether they need permission from you.

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