Enhanced Rights for Tenants
February saw the introduction of a number of measures which give residential tenants holding long leases greater protection against forfeiture of their leases.
The first of the changes is by an amendment to S 81 of the Housing Act which stipulates that a lease cannot be forfeit for non-payment of service charges until the court or the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) has determined that the service charge is payable by the tenant or the tenant has admitted the liability. After the determination, the landlord must wait a further 14 days and then must comply with any regulations created by the Secretary of State in relation to rights of re-entry to the premises.
Secondly, notices alleging breaches of covenant by the tenant cannot be served unless the LVT (or the court) has determined that a breach has, in fact, occurred. Only then can the relevant notice under S146 be issued after a further 14 days.
Two further changes also benefit tenants.
The first of these is that rent will not be payable under a long residential leasehold until the landlord has served a notice on the tenant, in the prescribed form, stating the rent due and the payment dates. The notice must be served between 30 and 60 days of the rent becoming due for payment and earlier payment cannot be sought.
The second is that landlords are no longer able to insist that tenants use an insurer of the landlord's choice. The tenant can insure with any authorised insurer. The leaseholder will have to insure both his and the landlord's interests and to advise the landlord within 14 days of the cover taking effect, and in prescribed form, of the insurer, perils covered and so on.
The implications of this new legislation for landlords are chiefly ones of making sure that their procedures have been updated for the changes. The extension of the role of the LVT is also noteworthy.
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