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Landlords Legal Briefing

1 Oct 2006 – The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, June 2005, Effective 1 October 2006

New fire safety rules affecting all non-domestic premises in England and Wales came into force on 1 October 2006. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, June 2005, is the biggest overhaul of fire safety legislation in years.
There will also be a series of guides published to assist those preparing fire risk assessment—see links. The changes will be a move towards greater emphasis on fire prevention in all non-domestic premises, including the voluntary sector and also self-employed people with premises separate from their homes.
Fire certificates will be abolished and will no longer have legal status after 1st October 2006.
The Fire Safety Order will apply in England and Wales—Northern Ireland and Scotland will have their own separate laws.
Similar to asbestos management, responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order will rest with the ‘responsible person’. In a workplace, this is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises—the occupier, owner, landlord or managing agent.
In multi-occupied buildings the responsibilities will be joint: tenants/employers internal, and common parts—landlord or managing agent.

DCLG Changes to Fire Safety Law—DCLG

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DCLG Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005

DCLG Fire Safety Guides

Dec 2005 – 2005 Pre- Budget Report

HM Treasury 2005 Pre – Budget Report

October 2005 – Building Regulations (Parts F&L): Draft Publications 2005

Office of Deputy Prime Minister – Building Regulations
New measures to make buildings more energy efficient, saving one million tonnes of carbon per year were announced by ODPM and Defra on 13 September. The new measures taken together with 2002 Building Regulations will improve standards by 40%.

Interim versions of Approved Documents for Part F (ventilation) and Part L (energy efficiency) and other supporting material have been published in preparation for the changes to the Building Regulations, coming into effect on 06 April 2006.

ODPM Links to information and Draft Approved Documents

October 2005 – Unfair Terms in Tenancy Agreements

Office of Fair Trading
A new up-dated guide on unfair terms in tenancy agreements has been published by OFT, This is a revised version of the previous 2001 guidance on how the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 apply to tenancy contracts. The update reflects enforcement action taken by the OFT, court judgments and problems experienced in dealing with complaints following publication of the 2001 guide.

OFT New guidance on unfair contract terms in tenancy agreements

Guidance on Unfair Terms in Tenancy Agreements Consumer Leaflet

April 2005 – Disability Bill and Landlords
A a Draft Bill on disability has some major implications for landlords. The draft Disability Bill proposes to extend a landlord’s duty to providing auxiliary aids or services to enable or facilitate a disabled person to enjoy the premises and any facilities or benefits available under the terms of the tenancy.
In addition, if a policy that the landlord has makes it unreasonably difficult or impossible to enjoy the premises or any of the facilities or benefits, then the landlord would have a duty to change that policy so that it no longer has that effect. The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) are disappointed that the Government has not introduced all the changes which it promised.

The DRC believes that landlords should not be allowed to withhold consent unreasonably from a disabled person to make changes to the physical features of the premises, although the landlord should not have to meet the costs. The DRC will be trying to make sure that this requirement is contained in the Disability Bill.

DWP Outcomes of Consultation Paper

April 2005 – Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Guidelines for Landlords

Wrtten Ministerial Statement by Keith Hill – April 2005

The Government are today publishing the summary responses on the key issues raised in our consultation on the implementation of HMO licensing. Copies of these responses have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. In addition, the Government are announcing the decisions we have made in respect of a number of issues which are necessary to achieve implementation in October 2005. An analysis of responses on the complete range of questions asked will be published in due course. It is proposed that: “the threshold for mandatory licensing will apply to HMOs comprising of three or more storeys and occupied by five or more persons (comprising at least two households)…

HMSO Housing Act 2004

Fire Safety Advice Centre Notes for Guidance – Houses of Multiple Occupation

HMSO HMO management Regulations 1990

ODPM Licensing of houses in multiple occupation – England: consultation paper

ODPM Houses in Multiple Occupation in the private rented sector (updated 17 March 2005)

March 2005 – 2005 Budget Summary

Tax Cafe 2005 Budget Summary

Dec 2004
Part P – Building Regulations – electrical safety requirements for landlords From 1st January 2005 all new electrical wiring or electrical components for a house, flat or small commercial premise linked to domestic accommodation must be designed and installed in accordance with the new Part P of the Building Regulations.

This affects Landlords

Each year on around 10 people die and 750 are seriously injured in accidents involving unsafe electrical installations in the home. The Construction Industry Deregulation Task Force recommended in 1995 that electrical safety requirements should be included in the Building Regulations.

Part P of the building regulations is intended to increase the safety of households by improving the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations in dwellings when these installations are being newly built, extended or altered.

Summary:
– A new requirement, has been added to Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations. ‘Requirement P’, has been limited to fixed electrical installations in dwellings, with minor works not needing to be notified.
– A new Approved Document P has been published, giving guidance on ways of complying that are based on the fundamental principles set out in Chapter 13 of BS 7671: 2001.

The Approved Document includes:
– Guidance relating to the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations.
– Guidance on types of electrical work that would not normally need to be notified to building control bodies
– Appendices that contain illustrations of the sorts of electrical services commonly required in homes, examples of model electrical installation certificates, and illustrations of what equipment may be encountered when work is carried out on older electrical installations.

The Requirement
The Building Regulations apply when building work is undertaken. Part P will redefine building work to include electrical work on certain types of fixed electrical installation in dwellings. The new requirement in the Building Regulations, ‘Requirement P’, is simply that:

P1 Design, Installation, Inspection and Testing
Reasonable provision shall be made in the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations in order to protect persons from fire or injury.

P2 Provision Information
Sufficient information shall be provided so that persons wishing to operate, maintain or alter an electrical installation can do so with reasonable safety.

The limits on the application of the requirement is that Requirement P applies only to fixed electrical installations that are intended to operate at low voltage or extra-low voltage which are not controlled by the Electricity Supply Regulations 1988 as amended, or the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 as amended.

Enforcement
Failure to comply with the requirement will be a criminal offence. Local authorities will also have the power to require the removal or alteration of work that does not comply with the Building Regulations.

Intended work that is subject to the provisions of Part P will have to be notified to the local authority. Traditionally, work notifiable under the Building Regulations is subject to inspection by the local authority’s building control department (or other approved building inspector). However, to avoid the need for local authorities to appoint specialist agents for this purpose, it appears likely that building control bodies would be authorised to accept certificates of compliance (ie Electrical Installation Certificates) issued by ‘Competent Firms’.

Leaders Press Release

ODPM Building Regulations Part P

Stockton on Tees Council Guide – New Regulations – Electrical Safety

Richmond Upon Thames Building Control Guidance Note – Part P Building Regulations

IEE Part P to the Building Regulations

NICEIC Part P Building Regulations

Nov 2004 – Office of Deputy Prime Minister – Housing Bill

Housing Act 2004

The Housing Bill received Royal Assent 19 November 2004.

November 2004 Parliament passed the new Housing Act 2004. The act will:

  • The Act will replace the existing housing fitness standard with the new Housing Health and Safety Rating System
  • The Act introduces a new mandatory HMO – houses in multiple occupation – licensing scheme. This scheme prima facie has some far reaching implications for HMO landlords, not least it appears will be the placing of the responsibility for any anti-social behaviour of tenants and friends, within the property and locality, on the landlord.
  • The Act Introduces a new selective licensing scheme for private rented properties not covered by the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.
  • This is new legislation so the full impact of the act is not yet known – it is likely that different provisions of the act will be phased in throughout 2005, and possibly beyond, so what this space.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System

ODPM Housing Act News Release 19 November 2004 Housing Bill Pages

RICS Report Housing Milestone Reached at last

1 June 04

Office of Deputy Prime Minister –Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 Part 2
New Rules – Business Tenancy Renewals The new rules amending and simplifying the 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act for lease renewals on Commercial Tenancies come into effect 1st June 2004

See Business Tenancy Renewals – 3 Dec 04 below  – Includes a link to the new legal forms required.

RICS Fact Sheet on Landlord / Tenant Law Reform – Business Tenancies

ODPMBusiness Tenancies – New procedures under the Landlord and Tenant Act (April 2004)

31 May 04ODPMCommercial Property Leases: Options for deterring or outlawing the use of of upward only rent review clauses Commercial Property Lease Consultation – Upward Only Rent Reviews
A new consultation paper reviewing Upward Only Rent Reviews (UORRs) was published May 2004.

  • The paper sets out 6 options:
    • No change from present
    • Total ban on UORRs
    • A ban on UORRs, with floor to initial rent
    • An automatic right to break if the UORR produced a rent above open market levels
    • Set a limit to lease lengths making UORRs unnecessary
    • Some kind of enhanced option pricing.

The deadline for consultation is 30th September 2004.

ODPM Consultation Paper
See also >> A Code of Practice for Commercial Leases In England & Wales (2nd Edition April 2002)
ODPM Discussion Document – options for deterring or outlawing upward only rent reviews
19 May 04ODPM Tenant’s Deposits Protection for Tenant’s DepositsFollowing much criticism of the process of handling tenant’s deposits in residential lettings, not least of which appeared in a damning report by Shelter, the government is to amend and strengthen the forthcoming Housing Bill with the aim of protecting tenant’s deposits and also to tackle the blight of empty homes. This also follows the conclusion of a The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) was piloted by the Housing Ombudsman Service in England to test a new way to deal with rented deposit disputes in the private rented sector.
ODPM Office of Deputy Prime Minister Press Release (see press release 19/5/04)
NALS National Approved Lettings Scheme Press Release (See Notice Board)
Shelter Shelter Report on Deposits
IHOS Housing Ombudsman Service
ODPM Tenancy money: probity and protection: consultation paper
Property People Should Tenancy Deposits be Regulated – arguments for and against

 

10 May 0410 Downing StreetEquity Release Schemes Equity Release Schemes to be RegulatedThe government announced today that home reversion plans will be protected under Financial Services Authority regulation.These schemes are a major decision on the part of house owners and there is great concern in some circles that the growing trend to release equity capital in this way is currently completely unreglated.A recent consultation exercise on plans to regulate these schemes supports government proposals. Legislation to regulate will be brought forward as soon as parliamentary time allows.Mortgage-backed schemes will be covered by new mortgage regulations to be introduced in October.
10 Downing Street – Press Release
20 Jan 04The Home OfficeAnti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003David Blunkett’s Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 came into force on January 20th 2004 introducing new laws affecting communities, young people and housing. Here is a short summary of the new laws that will affect you:

  • The carrying of air guns in public “without lawful authority or excuse” has been criminalized so this is now an arrestable offence.
  • The legal age for the possession of air weapons has been raised from 14 to 17
  • On-the-spot fines have been extended from adults only, to 16 and 17-year-olds for offences including throwing fireworks and making hoax 999 calls.
  • Local Councils and Newspapers can now “name and shame” youngsters punished with anti-social behaviour orders.
  • Police get the power to close drug dens in 48 hours and keep them closed. This gets over a loophole that allowed the dens to quickly re-open with new dealers. The enforcement now switches from the individuals involved to the property itself.
  • These street wardens can also fine people found drunk and disorderly in a public place £40 if aged 16 or over, and fine anyone caught buying alcohol for someone under 18 £40 (again if aged 16 or over)
  • The Act gives police the power to disperse large groups of young people who have gathered in an area designated an anti-social behaviour hotspot by the local council.
  • Accredited private security firms (Street Wardens) are now given police powers to issue £30 on-the-spot fines to cyclists for riding on the pavement
  • Street Wardens can also fine people being drunk and disorderly in a public place £40 if aged 16 or over, and fine anyone 16 or over caught buying alcohol for someone under 18 – £40.
Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003
Home Office Guide to the Act
Tackling Drugs
Advice on the Act
BBC Guide to the Act
20 Jan 04Law CommissionConsultation Paper: Termination of Tenancies for Tenant Default – No174 Consultation Paper: Termination of Tenancies for Tenant DefaultProposed scheme for Commercial Tenancies and Residential Tenancies in excess of 21 years.For the proposals for Short Residential Tenancies see Renting Homes (17 Nov 03) below, the Law Commission’s major project on changing legislation for residential renting.This consultation paper is seeking views from interested parties by 30th April 2004 on forthcoming legislation reforming the procedures for terminating tenancies during the fixed-term where a tenant has breached tenancy obligations.

The paper considers such matters as:

  • tenant default
  • notice before action
  • orders of the court
  • derivative interests
  • unilateral recovery of possession
  • joint tenants
  • tenant insolvency
  • service and administration charges.
Tenant Default
17 Dec 03Health & Safety ExecutiveDuty to manage Asbestos – effective from May 2004 Duty to Manage AsbestosThe regulations covering the control of asbestos in buildings and at work are to be extended May 2004. These new regulations will affect property owners (commercial and residential) landlords and managing agents.Much had been done to control the risk from asbestos through Regulations prohibiting the use, supply and importation of asbestos and asbestos products. There are also Regulations that control any work with, on, or around asbestos, with many types of work requiring a licence. However these controls only protect workers from exposure to asbestos when the presence of asbestos is known.Recent studies show that at least a quarter of the 3,000 a year currently dying from asbestos-related diseases had worked in the maintenance or building trades. It is these people, e.g. plumbers, electricians, cable layers, gas fitters, painters and decorators, who are being exposed unknowingly to asbestos fibres during their day-to-day work. The duty to manage sets out to protect this group.The duty seeks to ensure that asbestos in premises is located, recorded and the associated risks managed. Those who may disturb the identified material will need to be informed of its location so they can take the necessary precautions to avoid exposure to deadly asbestos fibres.
HSE The Duty to Manage Asbestos – Frequently Asked Questions
Thames Laboratories Guidance: 21-page report on asbestos management
Thames Laboratories has published a free 21-page report to help property owners and managers understand the basics of asbestos management and their legal requirements under the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002. The publication – Managing Asbestos: report for property owner and managers – covers the historical usage and processing of asbestos, asbestos production (including sprayed asbestos, thermal insulation, asbestos insulating board, and asbestos cement), asbestos hazards (including asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and pleural plaques), and the implications of asbestos legislation.
Download Managing Asbestos: report for property owner and managers »
10 Dec 03HM TreasuryBaker Review of UK Housing Supply – Interim Report Barker Review of Housing Supply: Securing Our Future Housing NeedsIn Budget 2003 the Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister asked Kate Barker, member of the Monetary Policy Committee, to undertake a review of issues affecting housing supply in the UK.  Kate Barker’s interim report was published on 10 December, key findings are summarized below.The number of houses being built in the UK is not keeping pace with demand and damaging the wider economy, according to the interim report of Kate Barker’s independent review of the UK housing market.

  • In 2001, around 175,000 dwellings were built in the UK – the lowest level since the Second World War.  And over the past ten years, the number of new dwellings built has been 12.5% lower than in the previous decade.
  • Over the last 30 years, UK house prices went up by 2.4% a year in real terms – compared to the European average of 1.1%. In Germany it was 0%, and in France 0.8%.
  • If UK house prices had risen in line with the European average, since 1975, the UK would have been £8 billion better off.  As a result of these price rises first time buyers in 2001 paid on average £32,000 more for their homes.
  • In 2002, only 37% of new households in England could afford to buy a house, compared to 46% in the late 1980s.
  • The ratio of lowest quartile house prices to lowest quartile earnings has increased significantly in most English regions. In 1993, a London house cost around four times the annual income of a low income household. By 2002, the same house had risen to almost eight times annual income.

The Review considers a range of factors that might be constraining the supply of housing in the UK arising from industry failures or the policy environment.

The main constraint identified by the Review is land supply.  This problem relates in part to the house building industry, in particular, its response to risk which leads to reluctance to build out large sites quickly.  The regulatory relationship and control over the use of land also influences the way in which land is made available for development.

The Review will publish a final report with recommendations for Government in Spring 2004.

HM Treasury Report and Independent Reviews
05 Dec 03Office of Deputy prime Minister (ODPM)Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRSThe current housing fitness regime is based on criteria first introduced some 80 years ago. Major risks to health and safety, such as cold, fire risk, falls on stairs and radon, are either not covered at all, or, in the case of fire risk, are covered for HMOs only. The 1998 consultation paper on the review of the fitness standard showed there was wide support for an alternative approach represented by the HHSRS, which covers all the important health and safety risks in the home through a clearly defined risk assessment procedure.The Development of the Housing Health and Safety System describes in detail the development and piloting process of this new system. It also details the principles guiding the development and the range of options considered. In addition to the report, there are also published detailed Guidance, written by the University of Warwick, on the type of hazards that might be found in the home, the assessment procedure and a computer programme used to carry out the rating.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS): Consultation on Enforcement Guidance Dec 03
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS): Overview
Development of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System
Housing Health and Safety Rating System: quick guide
05 Dec 03Office of Deputy prime Minister (ODPM)Housing Bill Housing BillThe Queen’s speech gave the go ahead for the Housing Bill in the next session of parliament.The draft Bill sets out specific legislation in five main areas:

  1. replacing the existing housing fitness standard with the evidence-based Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) as a more effective basis for enforcement against unacceptable housing conditions;
  2. improving the controls on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), including a mandatory national licensing scheme, to tackle poor physical and management standards
  3. giving local authorities powers to license all landlords in areas of low housing demand or similar areas where the growth and poor management of the private rented sector frustrates efforts to create sustainable communities;
  4. requiring anyone marketing a home to assemble a home information pack (HIP), so that the information needed by buyers and sellers is available when the property is marketed, and abortive costs on the buyer are reduced;
  5. modernising the Right to Buy scheme by tackling profiteering and emphasising purchasers’ responsibilities so that it contributes more effectively to the supply of affordable housing.

There are additionally clauses introducing a new office of Social Housing Ombudsman for Wales to investigate complaints against registered social landlords in Wales. The office will be held by a Local Commissioner for Administration in Wales.

There will also be introduced a proposal to give local authority landlords the flexibility to continue introductory tenancies by up to six months, adding to the armoury of measures to tackle anti-social behaviour by tenants.

The draft Bill is accompanied by explanatory notes and draft Regulatory Impact Assessments of each main element.

17 Dec 2003 Housing Bill now published – read the full text
Overview of the Housing Bill
Explanatory Fact Sheets
Housing Bill – Draft Legislation – Published March 2003
Questions & Answers on the Housing Bill – 6 Feb 2004
05 Dec 03Inland Revenue –Stamp Duty Land Tax Stamp Duty Land TaxThe new Stamp Duty land Tax comes into force on the 1st December 2003 and along with it obligations to notify the Inland Revenue when liability arises – a Land Transaction Return (LTR) must be completed and returned to the Inland Revenue within 30 days of a relevant transaction – see links below.The tax replaces the old stamp duty and is a tax on land transactions. It covers commercial and residential property freeholds, leaseholds, leases over 7 years, farm tenancies, mineral and land rights.Generally stamp duty rates will remain unchanged for commercial and residential transactions except that the commercial property zero rate threshold has increased to £150,000.

There have been considerable changes in duty for leases. Stamp duty land tax on leases will now be based on a net present value (NPV) calculation. The NPV being the total rent payable over the life of a lease, which is then reduced by a discount rate of 3.5% and is charged at a flat rate of 1% on the excess of NPV above the zero rate thresholds – £60,000 for residential and £150,000 for commercial. A calculator is available on the Inland Revenue web site – see links below.

Not all leases will need to be notified. The tax generally will not apply to leases under 7 years duration unless the net present value calculation triggers a charge.

Inland Revenue Stamp Office
Inland Revenue SDLT
LandlordZONE Stamp Duty
Inland Revenue Advice Leaflet – common mistakes made

 

03 Dec 03Office of Deputy Prime Minister –Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 Part 2 Business Tenancy RenewalsAn Order to streamline procedures for renewing business tenancies or bringing them to an end has been announced 1st December 2003.The Order aims to speed-up the process and reduce the number of cases which go to court. It will remove the need for landlords and tenants who have agreed to waive security of tenure to get court permission. This will be replaced by a simpler ‘health warning’ notice, written in plain English, served on the tenant.Under these new rules the landlord is required to serve a “health warning” notice on the tenant, explaining the loss of rights and the importance of getting professional advice. The tenant must then sign a declaration that they have read the “health warning” and accepted its consequences. Landlords must give tenants at least 14 days’ notice otherwise the tenant must visit an independent solicitor to make a special “statutory declaration”.

This Order also contains several other useful provisions, including making the rules on interim rent (rent payable pending renewal of the tenancy) fairer, clarifying how a tenant may bring a business tenancy to an end, and improving the arrangements for the parties to obtain information from each another before renewal or termination procedures.

These new arrangements will come into effect on 1st June 2004.

ODPM Press Release
1st December 2003, operative from 1st June 2004 The Regulatory Reform (Business Tenancies) (England and Wales) Order 2003 – Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 3096
HMSO The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, Part 2 (Notices) Regulations 2004
PropertyLawUK Business Lease Renewal
08 Dec 03The Department of Constitutional Affairs – Amendment toCivil Procedure Rules Housing DisrepairAn amendment to the Civil Procedure Rules published September 2003 – Pre-action Protocol on Housing Disrepair Cases comes into force on December 8th 2003
. Housing Disrepair Pre-Action Protocol
Ticking Clock for Landlords – Article by Mike Summerhayes,  Property Law – Bridge McFarland – December 2003
17 Nov 03The Law CommissionReport

“Renting Homes”

The Law Commission’s Report – Renting HomesThe Law Commission’s report “Renting Homes” (Law Com 284) published 5/11/03 proposes some of the most far reaching changes to residential landlord and tenant law for almost a century.The plans for coming legalisation are intended to align the legalities of the landlord-tenant relationship with the Office of Fair Trading’s consumer approach to housing tenure, with the aim of releasing even more private housing stock for rent.The plans include the simplification of tenancy types down to 2 main ones: type 1 aimed primarily at public sector tenancies, giving longer-term security of tenure to tenants, and type 2, aimed primarily at the private sector, giving no longer-term security of tenure.

The present Assured Shorthold Tenancy gives tenants a mandatory minimum period of 6 months’ security, but the new proposals intend to abolish this so that there is no minimum period, though a 2 month period of notice to quit will still apply.

The new rules will place a lot of emphasis on every tenancy being in written form, with agreements including legally specified terms, along with terms added by the parties.

Initial reaction from landlord bodies seems positive and current plans should see the proposals included in anew draft Housing Bill due for publication Easter 2004.

. 11 page executive summary of the report
. 186 page full text version
07 Nov 03Department for Work and Pensions“Local Housing Allowance”

(LHA)

Standard Local Housing Allowance (SLHA)Andrew Smith announced a programme of reform to Housing Benefit (HB) on 17th October 2002. These included a trial of a Standard Local Housing Allowance (SLHA) in ten Pathfinder areas throughout the country. These will be phased in gradually starting 17th November 2003 with Blackpool until the 9th of February 2004 with Leeds.The programme of reform is outlined in the prospectus Building Choice and Responsibility: A Radical Agenda for Housing Benefit.The Pathfinder areas are: Blackpool, Brighton and Hove, Conwy, Coventry, Edinburgh, Leeds, Lewisham, Middlesbrough, North East Lincolnshire, Teignbridge.

Claimants in these areas will receive a standard allowance based on the area in which they live and the number of occupiers in their property. As now, entitlement will be subject to a means test and proof of a valid tenancy. The intension is that payment will normally be made to the tenant rather than direct to the landlord.

The thinking behind the new scheme is to promote fairness, choice, transparency, personal responsibility, increased work incentives and simplicity. See the links below for more details.

. Newsletter
. Building Choice and Responsibility: A Radical Agenda for Housing Benefit
Memorandum and Commentary on Draft Regulations
FAQs for Landlords
20 October 2003Disability Unit
Department for Work and PensionsDisability Discrimination Act 1995
Disability Discrimination Act 1995

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) aims to end the discrimination which many disabled people face. This Act gives disabled people rights in the areas of:

  • employment
  • access to goods, facilities and services
  • buying or renting land or property.

The legislation has the potential to affect landlords and agents on all three counts.

The employment rights and first rights of access came into force on 2 December, 1996; further rights of access came into force on 1 October, 1999; and the final rights of access will come into force in October 2004.

In addition to the above this Act allows the Government to set minimum standards so that disabled people can use public transport easily.

A Guide – Centre for Accessible Environments
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) Act 1999
“Code of Practice – Rights of Access, Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises”
How this law will affect small and medium enterprises
Regulatory Impact Assessment
Joint consultation exercise
Disability Unit Department for Work and Pensions
13 Oct 2003Land Registration Act 2002 – effective 13th October 2003 The Land Registration Act 2002The Act was given Royal Assent on 26th February 2002 and will be effective from 13th October 2003. It introduces sweeping changes to the principles of conveyancing. It represents a complete overall of the conveyancing system and paves the way for on-line conveyancing. These are enormous changes and anyone involved with property needs to make an effort to understand them and how they affect their business.There are many significant changes to the law and practice for registered land which affects protection of third party interests, overriding interests, what interests in land may or must be registered, adverse possession of registered land.Registration of Leases. Any Lease of business premises or private property of seven years or more will now have to be registered with the Land Registry. Also, rights and easements will have to be registered on leases of less than seven years duration.This will mean that in future every lease of seven years or more will be recorded against the landlord’s land title.  These entries will then need to be cleared when the lease ends or if the tenant defaults and the is lease is forfeited.

The procedure is going to put more expense on the tenant as solicitors acting for tenants will have to check the landlord’s title and register the lease if it is over seven years. If the lease is for less than seven years there may be a need to register any separate rights or easements.

Registration will also mean that clear plans will be needed to identify the demised areas of leases granted for more than seven years.

The Act completely changes the Law of Adverse Possession. The existing law, by which an occupier cannot be evicted if they’ve been in continuous occupation of a piece of land for more than 12 years, and which allows them to register a “Possessory Title” to the land, will no longer apply after 13th Oct 2003.

However, a squatter will now be able to make an application for registration of a “Possessory Title” afteroccupation of land for 10 years. This would appear at first sight to strengthen the squatter’s position, but this is not the case. The Act stipulates that if a squatter should apply in this way, and the true owner objects, the squatter must demonstrate that his occupation of the land falls within one of three quite limited circumstances set out in schedule 6 of the Act:

  • that it would in all the circumstances, be unconscionable for the true owner to evict the squatter;
  • that the squatter has a right to the land in other ways than as a result of his occupation, for example by way of inheritance.
  • that the squatter is occupying land immediately adjoining his own land, and that his occupation of that land results from a mistake as where the boundary boundary should be between the two.

The protection of land given by the Act will apply to owners of REGISTERED land only. For owners of land that is not yet registered to receive protection they should apply for voluntary registration of title to their land. This can be done at any time.

Finally, should a squatter make an application where no objection is raised by the true owner, then the squatter would be entitled to register title to the land after 10 years of occupation. In this case the squatter would not have to comply with the grounds set out in schedule 6. Land owners beware!

In the future: it is likely that within the next few years the lease registration period of seven years will be reduced to three. Prescribed forms of leases are being proposed, and with the introduction of Stamp Duty Land Tax (1 December 2003 – see above) there will be a requirement to ensure this duty is paid by the tenant prior to registration of the lease at the Land Registry.

. The Land Registry Law & Practice
. The Land Registration Act 2002
20 Sept 03RICSA Code of Practice for Commercial Leases In England & Wales (2nd Edition April 2002) A Code of Practice for Commercial Leases In England & Wales (2nd Edition April 2002)This Code (published April 2002) is a voluntary document that has been prepared by a cross industry working group representing all sides of the property industry. The operation of the Code is due for Government (DTLR) review after 2 years at which point a decision will be made as to whether statutory regulation is needed.There have long been calls commercial property landlords to be more adaptable to changing economic circumstances, particularly with respect to rent review mechanism’s and on the duration (term) of leases. This code recommends that alternatives should be offered wherever possible. The Code makes ten detailed recommendations when negotiating a lease and another thirteen on conduct over the duration of the lease. It has not been intended to give detailed technical advice but rather to signify the main issues for businesses to consider when agreeing a commercial lease in England and Wales.Code supported by: Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, Small Business Service, British Property Federation, British Retail Consortium, Confederation of British Industry, Forum of Private Business, Property Market Reform Group, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Small Business Bureau, Law Society, Association of British Insurers, Association of Property Bankers, British Chambers of Commerce, British Council of Officers, Federation of Small Businesses, Council for Licensed Conveyancers
Commercial Lease Code of Practice
23/4/04 ODPM Consultation on Commercial Lease Reform – News Release and Interim Report
University of Reading’s Interim Report  23/4/04
7 August 2003Department of Trade & Industry (DTI)Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998

Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998The Government has introduced the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, which gives small firms with 50 or less employees a statutory right to interest for the late payment of commercial debts. This statutory right to interest and other new entitlements are available to all businesses and public sector bodies from 7 August 2002.A guidance booklet is available from the DTI and will be sent to you free of charge or you can download

The late payment legislation does not prevent businesses from setting, and agreeing with customers, their own terms of business including the level of interest to be charged on late payment.

Where payment is proving difficult or the other party disputes the amount due, businesses should obtain legal advice or seek help from a professional debt recovery service. This does not necessarily mean going to court.The Lord Chancellors Department publication Resolving Disputes Without Going to Court sets out the options available. This can be obtained from county courts, public libraries or your local Business Link.Leaflets providing guidance on all aspects of recovering debts through the courts are available from the Court Service or from county courts.

The Law Society operates the “Lawyers For Your Business” scheme, offering a free consultation with a solicitor. Details of the scheme and the 1,700 legal practices involved in this scheme nation wide area available from the Law Society web site.

Landlords with commercial leases (the act does not apply to residential agreements (consumer) contracts) should consider changing the interest on late payments clause to incorporate the provisions of this legislation. This simplifies matters considerably when calculating and claiming interest in court.

HMSO Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998
payontime Better Payment Practice Website
Debt Recovery
Please Note: This Article is 4 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

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