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EHOs urged to act on excess cold after landmark ruling - EMPO Messenger (August 2015)

Article by Giles Inman on Aug 25, 2015 View in browser

EHOs urged to act on excess cold after landmark ruling - EMPO Messenger (August 2015)

A tribunal has supported Liverpool City Council’s bid to require a landlord to install affordable heating because his tenants were likely to be on low income. The case has been labelled ‘significant’ by the authority and could lead the way for EHOs across the country to demand that landlords replace inadequate and expensive heating systems if their tenants cannot afford to properly heat their home.

Landlord Anwar Hadi Kassim was served with an improvement notice by the council in 2011, requiring him to replace the existing panel convector heaters and a towel rail at a one-bedroom flat with either a gas central heating system or a fan-assisted storage heating system.

Mr Kassim appealed to the First-Tier Tribunal Property Chamber, which ruled in his favour.

The council appealed to an upper tribunal in 2012, which found the initial tribunal ‘had been in error’ and that the comparative running costs of heating should be taken into account.

The case was ordered to be re-heard at a lower tribunal, and on 17 June the initial ruling was overturned and the improvement notice was reinstated.

Although this does not set a legal precedent, the ruling confirms the strength of the upper tribunal’s decision which has to be considered by the lower tier.

During the case Liverpool EHO Ms Griffiths demonstrated that the property was a Category 1 HHSRS hazard due to excess cold. Using data from the Office for National Statistics she also demonstrated that prospective tenants were unlikely to be able to pay for the existing heating system.

Ms Griffiths told EHN she was ‘relieved and elated’ after the ruling.

‘We knew it was right to pursue this case, and it shouldn’t have taken this long for the decision to be taken,’ she said.

‘But at the end of the day common sense has prevailed. We hope other local authorities will appreciate the importance of this ruling and I sincerely hope that this decision will help other EHOs in dealing with excess cold.

‘In my opinion, the excess cold hazard and heating provision is one of the most contentious of the 29 HHSRS hazards.’

She added there was ‘lot of interest’ in the case from EHPs.

At least 40 landlords have appealed against action against them over excess cold under the HHSRS.

Frank Hont, Liverpool’s cabinet member for housing, said: ‘This is a very significant ruling. Fuel poverty is a real issue in the city and it has now been firmly established that landlords cannot rely on inefficient and expensive heating for tenants.

‘This decision will have nationwide repercussions and will be welcomed by tenants throughout the country.’

New Members July 2015

 

Jan Lindley and Daljit Guram

Landlords & Agents putting student tenants at risk by not fixing hazards

Over 20% of student landlords and letting agents are putting tenants’ lives at risk by failing to fix serious safety hazards.

The charity Electrical Safety First says a worrying number of landlords and agents ignore safety concerns reported to them, leaving student tenants vulnerable to electric shocks fires and even electrocution.

Research commissioned by the charity suggests that 37% of agents and landlords failed to fix exposed wiring when reported, 35% never rectified damp, condensation or flooding around the electrics, whilst 30% left issues with scorching around sockets and light fittings unresolved.

Other electrical hazards reported that were not fixed despite being reported include: constant tripping of the fuse box (26%), broken sockets or light switches (24%), and broken, damaged or overheating appliances supplied with the property (23%).

Emma Apter, of Electrical Safety First, said: “These figures are unacceptable. Students should not have to compromise on safety.”

The research was conducted in June by the National Union of Students on behalf of the charity, with a sample of 1,161 students.

Electrical Safety First is calling for mandatory electrical safety checks every five years in private rented accommodation, and visual inspections between tenancies.

The Residential Landlords Association said that the report highlights a lack of enforcement by local authorities.

 EMPO reminds student landlords that in order to be compliant they are required to meet the following standards:

1. Renew landlord certificates every 5 years

2. Ensure CO2 monitors are installed in rooms where a solid fuel heating system is installed

3. PAT testing to be undertaken on all electrical appliances owned by landlord on a yearly basis 

4. All consumer units to be of a fire proof material or existing consumer units to be housed in fire proof boxing. 

Green Deal Update

The uptake of the Green Deal Scheme has been much lower than expected, with only 15,600 Green Deal finance plans in place and just over 27,000 energy efficiency measures installed in homes across England and Wales. The total value of measures installed under the Home Improvement Fund is claimed to be £114m.
 So an announcement made by Government in July that spells the end of funding to the Green Deal Finance Company, effectively terminates Green Deal. Any existing deals and loans in progress will be honoured. The ECO funding scheme will continue until March 2017, with the future beyond this date unknown. There are still local schemes available, some through local councils, and others from commercial companies. All rented properties must have at least an EPC rating of 'E' by April 2018 if they are to be occupied by tenants.

Property Redress Schemes

Legislation under this scheme has been in force for almost a year. It is clear that local authorities are policing the law, and Sheffield City Council recently fined 11 letting agents for not complying with the legislation, raising £37,000 for their coffers. Letting agents, please be aware.

The Lincolnshire Landlord & Letting Agent Expo 2015

 “If you thinking of investing in Lincolnshire, come along to the upcoming Expo at the Bentley Hotel, Lincoln on Tuesday 6th October 2015.”

Free Entry, Free Parking, Free Tea & Coffee (Sponsored by Belvoir Lettings)

EMPO is hosting the Lincolnshire Landlord & Letting Agent Expo in partnership with the NLA and DASH Accreditation. To find out more about the exhibitors, guest speakers and the live Graham Penny Auction click HERE

Landlord news from around the East Midlands

Nottingham is a buy-to-let hotspot

Shooting up the table from last year's 17th place position, Nottingham now comes in as the country's fourth most popular place to buy-to-let according to Barclays Mortgage data: Nottingham beat Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh.

To find out more click HERE

Hundreds of objections to plan for 14-storey Code student complex overlooking Leicester's Bede Park

The concerns range from concerns about the size and appearance of the buildings - particularly the 14-storey block - to the impact of having some 500 more students in the area.

 To find out more click HERE

Landlord's horror as he discovers tenant is living with 50 stone pig in his Lincolnshire bungalow

A filthy tenant turned a property into a real pig sty - when he had a 50-stone pot-bellied pig living in the house.

To find out more click HERE