If you’re seeking Seasonal good cheer, scroll straight to the end, for the latest news on Karen Buck’s excellent Private Members’ Bill. But after that, please show goodwill to all, by signing the government petition started by a landlord who understands our human right to housing.
If you share your home with your landlord
Renting a room in the owner’s home usually offers a good standard of accommodation for the price. Presumably, these arrangements often work out well, too. But no-one has ever contacted Renters’ Rights London to tell us how great things are in their lovely home.
Please know that if you share your home with the owner, you are not actually a tenant. Your status is that of ‘an excluded occupier’. This means that you are excluded from the provisions of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Still, the landlord cannot tell you to leave the property immediately or the next day; you are entitled to ‘reasonable notice’. The law does not specify a particular period of time as ‘reasonable’, though. Shelter suggests that a week might be reasonable. If you pay your rent monthly, Renters’ Rights London would say that a months notice looks more reasonable. However, if relations between you and the property owner have soured, you might wish to get away much sooner.
It’s not until a problem arises that renters who live with the landlord realize how vulnerable they are. Therefore, as with any other rental agreement, it’s best to get all the details of the arrangement set down in writing, at the very start.
If you pay a deposit to a live-in landlord, they are not required to register your money with a deposit protection scheme, either. This makes it harder to challenge any deductions but you should not be afraid to do so. As with any other rental, it’s best to put everything in writing. Although this seems unnatural when you’re sharing a kitchen table or a sofa, it provides the ‘paper trail’ you will need if you find that you have to pursue your former landlord through the small claims court to recover your deposit money.
Renters’ Rights London suspects that most people who rent out their spare bedrooms to help them cover the costs of owning a home do not declare that rental income to HMRC for tax purposes. Those landlords should be worried by the possibility of being pursued through the Courts for the equivalent of three or four weeks rent, then. It’s worth bearing this last in mind, if you find yourself having to negotiate, to recover your deposit money from a flatmate who is also your landlord.
Stop Banks from discriminating against benefit recipients
The Equality Act 2010 aims to protect us from discrimination on the grounds of age and/or disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, ‘race’, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. There’s no protection from discrimination on the grounds of economic status or social class, though. If there were, banks and landlords’ insurance companies would not be able to dictate terms unfavourable to people in receipt of state benefits.
Helena McAleer is a landlord, instructed by her bank to “seek an alternative tenant”, if she wished to keep her mortgage. This, because the tenant was in receipt of benefits. She has started a petition, calling on government to outlaw this kind of discrimination. Helena writes “Welfare recipients are not 2nd class citizens they deserve access to safe, secure, habitable, and affordable homes as is their Human Right.” Please sign the petition
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act
Our right to a decent home is now enshrined in law. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 received Royal Assent on Thursday, 20th December. The bill comes into force for new tenancies (and those which become periodic after the end of a fixed term) in three months time. Thereafter, it will apply to existing tenancies one year after that.
Now, landlords will be required to offer all rented residential accommodation ‘in a state of fitness for human habitation’ and to maintain all rented homes to that standard throughout the tenancy. Although landlords already had responsibility to carry out repairs, we know that one in three households in the private rented sector is living in sub-standard conditions, due to disrepair.
Renters won’t have to rely on action from local council environmental health departments any more. The Act gives renters the power to take action directly.
This new legislation applies to every area of hazard and disrepair for which a landlord is currently responsible. Additionally, to infestations of vermin and problems with damp caused by poor design or structural issues.
It’s good indeed to be able to end 2018 on this happy note, with the full compliments of the Season.