As you probably know, as a landlord, you are obliged by law to carry out a gas safety check (using an installer registered with the Gas Safe Register) every year and give a certificate to the tenants
Its a criminal offence not to.
But what if your tenants won’t let you in? It sounds ridiculous – but many don’t.
- They may dislike the landlord and not want him coming into their home
- They may be suspicious and think that there is some ulterior motive
- They may be carrying on criminal activities at the properties (for example they may have converted it to a cannabis farm) and don’t want anyone coming in, or
- They may be ‘bloody minded’ or just plain stupid.
However this puts you in a spot. You are under a legal obligation to get the inspection done – but you can’t just go in anyway regardless of whether the tenants like it or not – that is a breach of their ‘covenant for quiet enjoyment’.
Neither does the tenants’ refusal give you the right to cut off the gas – that’s illegal too.
The Heath & Safety Executive who enforce these regulations will expect you to have at least three ‘documented attempts’ to gain access to get the safety check done.
But if the tenants still don’t let you in, you shouldn’t just sit back – you may be safe from prosecution (for now) but you still need to keep trying.What you can do?
Here are some suggestions:
- Make your three letters really powerful so they will make your tenant think twice about refusing to let you in
- Get someone ‘official’ – for example someone from the Council – to talk to your tenants and explain that it really is necessary, its not just the landlord being nosey
- Consider evicting under section 21 (if you can), or if this is not possible
- Apply to court for an injunction order.
In order to help you with 1 and 4, and also to give you a procedure to follow, I have teamed up with Barrister Robert Brown of Arden Chambers to create a Gas Access Kit.
This also has background information on the law, links to helpful websites, eviction notices and other forms and anything else we can think of to help you and make it easier for you to comply with the law.
The procedures for getting the injunction are set out very clearly with screen shots of all the forms, all the wording you need (some of which you will have to adapt to suit the circumstances of your case) and guidance on what to do at court.
Hopefully you will never need to use it, but knowing that you can, will help you with your dealings with your tenant.
We also give guidance on getting an order for possession based on the tenants refusal to let you in – but don’t recommend this as there is a lot more that can go wrong (for more on this, listen to the podcast here).Who is the Gas Access Kit for?
The kit has been written mainly for:
- Private Landlords, whether these are one property / accidental landlords or
- Large portfolio landlords, in particular
- Landlords with sitting protected tenants (i.e. who cannot be evicted easily under section 21)
- Social housing landlords, e.g. housing associations
- Property Managers, and
- Letting agents
However it will also be very useful for:
- Housing advisors (eg local authority staff, CABx etc), and
Even if you have no intention of using the court injunction procedure, understanding how it all works and knowing that you COULD do this if necessary, will give you confidence when dealing with your recalcitrant tenants.
For more information and to buy the kit now >> click here.
An agent has lost a court battle against a vendor who sold her property to a buyer who viewed it through a rival agent.
Tyneside agency Keith Pattinson took Sharon Parker to court after she refused to pay a reported fee of £1,500 plus VAT which she says she already paid to the other agent.
“I had my house for sale with a different estate agent in 2008 and added Keith Pattinson in 2010 because I was desperate. The other agent conducted a lot of viewings with potential buyers and Keith Pattinson arranged three but cancelled them all on the day they were due to take place” Parker has told ChronicleLive, the online version of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.
“I finally had an offer from one of the buyers sent by the first estate agent but I was shocked when Keith Pattinson claimed they wanted a cut because of one telephone call” she says.
The call in question was when the potential purchaser could not contact the originally-instructed agent because it was a Bank Holiday, but instead contacted Keith Pattinson.
“After some negotiation over the price I accepted the offer but stressed to Keith Pattinson that the buyer had viewed through the first agent. I was very confused as both [agents] were asking for payment and I told them to sort it out among themselves” she says.
The sale went ahead back in 2011 and Parker eventually paid the first agent, only to receive a bill some six months later from Keith Pattinson seeking £1,500 plus VAT. An accompanying letter claimed Parker had sold the property privately.
Keith Pattinson sent further letters demanding payment, including one which said that if she paid by a specified time the firm would remove the VAT “as a gesture of goodwill.”
The agency then took Sharon Parker to court, almost three years after the sale, but a judge has dismissed the company’s claim and has refused it the right to appeal.
A spokesman for the agency has declined to comment on the case.
- Keith Pattinson
- Private Sale
- Estate Agency Fees
A respected business journalist says Agents’ Mutual must launch with the same technical infrastructure that makes Rightmove and Zoopla “so convenient and useful to millions.”
Julian Harris, news editor of the business daily City AM, says the existing major portals have sophisticated technology but Zoopla has, in this regard, moved ahead of Rightmove.
Harris also says that Zoopla is relatively well protected from the potential impact of Agents’ Mutual’s OnTheMarket portal, launching in the New Year, and from any dip in the UK housing market.
“Over 3,000 of its members are housing developers or foreign agents, for a start. Its revenue stream of subscription payments from members is not directly impacted by prices, and is being bolstered with premium listings, appraisal boosters, and area sponsorships” he says.
He also believes that the threat of the new rival portal has already been factored into Zoopla’s share price.
Harris adds that he himself recently dealt with High Street estate agents when he was considering buying an investment property in London.
“The first agent was about as useful as a chocolate teapot. The second was mildly better, perhaps like a balsa-wood teapot. I should instead have been walking about with a Zoopla app that would’ve provided far more facts about the local market” he says.
Meanwhile at the new online agency Purplebricks, controversial fund manager Neil Woodford has purchased a 30 per cent stake for £7m.
Launched in April by Michael and Kenny Bruce, the company is charging a fixed sales fee of £599 instead of the high street agents' average of around £5,600.
Woodford, previously a high-performing fund manager at Invesco Perpetual, recently set up his own company, Woodford Investment Management.
- Agents' Mutual
- City AM
The average asking price of homes coming on the market across England and Wales is this month down by 2.9 per cent - or roughly £7,750 - compared to July, according to the latest Rightmove index.
Although August is of course a quieter time of year producing an average monthly price fall of 1.6 per cent each summer over the last 10 years, this month’s rather more dramatic fall is the largest decrease ever recorded by Rightmove in a summer period.
The fall has been exacerbated by London recording a 5.9 per cent drop, which is the largest of three consecutive monthly falls for the capital’s homes on sale.
Notwithstanding the falls, new seller asking prices across England and Wales are still 5.3 per cent or £13,202 higher than they were a year ago. But just three months ago, asking prices were 8.9 per cent more than a year earlier, so this demonstrates just how sharp the most recent drops have been.
Sales activity is traditionally strongest in the first half of the year, and this year seems to be following that pattern according to Rightmove. A drop in buyer demand and an eight per cent increase in the volume of property coming to market compared to 12 months ago means more competition to sell, hence asking prices declining it says.
Over the past 12 months, detached homes are up 4.9 per cent, semis up 7.9 per cent, terraced homes increased by 9.6 per cent and apartments are up 9.9 per cent.
- housing market
Estate Agent Today has gone to a five-days-a-week update, bringing you the industry’s most important stories every weekday.
Until now we have published only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while on Tuesday and Thursday our sister online publication Letting Agent Today was updated.
But from now, every weekday will see fresh news stories available from early morning. Occasionally we will make through-the-day updates, too, when urgent newsflash stories demand immediate publication.
The stories will be written, as now, by respected property journalist Graham Norwood, who also contributes fortnightly to the Industry Views section of Estate Agent Today.
- Estate Agent Today
- Letting Agent Today
- Graham Norwood
Blog readers may be interested to know that we are running a special promotion at Easy Law Training.
Book a place on any of our workshops by the end of August and you can book a second place at half price.
Why not take advantage of this and learn from Ben (on 9 October in London) how to deal with all the crooks and nannies who are out there waiting to turn your properties into cannabis farms?
Of find out about the complex laws relating to landlords repairing obligations and how to deal with tenants claims? (Barrister Peter Marcus in Norwich on 23 October).
Check out all the workshops on offer here.
But what happened on the blog?Monday
A blog clinic question where a tenant moved out and has asked for a rental refund. Is he entitled to it? Find out here …Tuesday
Here is the recording of my recent interview with Ben Beadle. We had a few technical issues but its still a very interesting interview. Listen to it here …Wednesday
An interesting post from Ben reporting on how local authorities are considering reviving the old remedy of ‘works in default’ – read about it here …Thursday
David Smith and I continue our HMO series, today looking at the criteria landlords need to satisfy – find out what they are here …Friday
Ben looks at 40 foot high rubbish heaps, housing charities and why amateur landlords need to educate themselves in the law – read it all here …
- Birmingham agents are prosecuted and fined under the gas regulations
- The number of people taking in lodgers has doubled says Independent
- Property Eye reports on concerns about landlords future immigration duties
>> Click here
to get the weekly roundups sent direct to your email in box every week – the easy way to keep up with whats happening on the blog.
[Ben Reeve Lewis warns landlords that they need to know the law ...]
My apologies in advance this week to Tessa and other readers of the legal profession.
Having been become embroiled in a number of futile legal disputes in the past few months I wonder whose side the law is on sometimes.
This week Frazzy flagged up a story for me in the Daily Mail about a 40 foot high rubbish dump sitting next door to people’s houses.A pile of rubbish
Go ahead, look at the pile. It’s like a life sized model of the Matterhorn made entirely out of disposable nappies, and it aint Tracey Emin we are talking about here.
The article begins with:
“A team of diggers has started removing 2,500 tonnes of waste from a 40ft-high rat-infested rubbish pile which has blighted the lives of residents for the past three years.”
2,500 tonnes? Sounds impressive but not when you consider that the rubbish dump itself comprises 20,000 tonnes, so this daft gesture is a tiny proportion of the rat infested mess.
Rats aside…..if you can ever say that with a straight face, the monstrous pile has a habit of catching fire as well. One blaze lasted 10 days!!!!!!!!
Of course the problem is that the company which runs the site Waste4Fuel, charges people to use the dump, so it is a case of profit first and everyone else can ‘Feck off’ to quote the wisdom of Craggy Island’s Father Jack Hackett.
Trouble is, the Environment agency and Bromley Council are, to use a tired old phrase “Locked in a high court battle, with Waste4Fuel”.
You know what that means? Years of endless litigation that gets nowhere.Don’t do this at home
Frazzy put her finger on it, why bother getting bogged down in a “High court battle”?, screw the legal proceedings, find the home addresses of the bosses of Waste4Fuel. Tap up the neighbours for £20 each, hire a van, stick some sticky old crap in it and dump it on throe front drives. See how they like it.
They’ll take you to court, you will lose against their expensive lawyers but the press will have a field day if you manage it right.
Then do what the MacDonalds Three did. Refuse to pay the costs and let the whole thing drag through court again, while their own corporate disposable nappies are out there for the appropriately named ‘Gutter press’ to dig into.
Why let people use the legal system of adjournments, out of date filing of defences backed up by limp apologies to a weak judge to drag things on interminably?Speaking from experience …
Yes folks. I can’t talk about specifics but guess what my week prosecuting rogue landlords has been made up of????????
Having been run ragged in the last seven days by rogue landlords playing the legal system to their own advantage I am thankfully reminded that the vast majority of landlords aren’t in that criminal camp and comprise ordinary, decent folk who break laws that they don’t even know are there.More amateur landlords
Inside Housing this week reports that seven out of ten private landlords are amateurs, merely supplementing the income from their day jobs
This certainly resonates with what I see but where does this leave tenants? NLA head Richard Lambert said:-
“Landlords should make sure they educate themselves as to what is expected of them, legally and professionally, especially if they plan to manage the properties themselves.
Not knowing your obligations as a landlord could result in serious problems, financial as well as legal. A tenant should be safe and comfortable in their home and ignorance is no excuse.”
Wise words that the would-be landlord should heed.Amateurs can’t be pro’s without training
I’m a keen cook and loved reading Anthony Bourdain’s seminal book ‘Kitchen Confidential’, about the real life end of the restaurant business.
He talks of people using retirement/redundancy money to open a bistro, thinking it is simply an extension of hosting dinner parties and how the pros in town earmark the cookers and fridges they want to buy at auction when the naïvely conceived business enterprise inevitably goes down.
I’m a housing pro and I have the same view when I see amateurs enter the fray.
While the poor newbie landlord pours their celebratory glass of Chardonnay and imagines their future assured I know in advance about
- the nightmare tenant who wrecks the place and doesn’t pay,
- the housing benefit claw back,
- the endless arguments about condensation v rising damp,
- the adjournments and suspensions on possession proceedings [not if they get it right - Ed],
- the housing advice worker, usually me, telling them they have to get a possession order even though the tenant owes them 5 grand.
Welcome to landlording. Rather you than me.
Like the people living next to the Mt Everest of soiled nappies, the law will not help you unless you do some work and know what you are getting into.Economics : law = 60:40
Tessa and I talk often about this. Letting agents and property portals will talk about yields, loan to value ratios, return on investment and all of this guff, which is admittedly a huge part of being a landlord….say 60%, but the remaining 40% is housing law.
That boring stuff that you don’t want to hear about. But it is out there, ready to sink your investment if you don’t take the legal niceties onboard.Oh cluck
For example. You have a ‘no pets’ clause in your tenancy agreement but your tenant keeps chickens. Clear breach of contract yeah? ………..No!!!!!! Under Section 12 of the Allotments Act 1950 chickens and rabbits don’t count.
Your tenant pays their rent monthly, you don’t provide a rent book. Legal breach? ….no! But you have another tenant who pays their rent weekly. No rent book……..legal breach?………..Yes. Section 4 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
You have to know your way around this stuff if you aren’t going to add tears to that celebratory glass of Chardonnay.
Basically you have two routes.
- Completely ignore the law like the people I deal with, or
- get educated.
If seven out of ten landlords are amateurs that worries me in my professional capacity because most of you that I meet are nice people heading fro a slow motion car crash because your eyes are on the profit not the obligations.Housing charity
Finally, I came across an interesting housing based charity this week Project Sun, giving loans to people in Nicaragua a chance to light their homes using solar panels.
Quite a few Brit housing associations have been donating money their way. A full kit costs $500 dollars which they pay back over 5 years, which would be the same they would pay on an electricity bill, after that they are operational and self sustaining.
The sort of imitative I like, not charity but small development loans. Give them a tweet get the message around.
Oh and another finally. Woke up this morning to the story of the one armed pilot whose artificial arm fell off whilst landing the plane. The Daily Mirror had the best headline “Hands Solo” aha. Prize of the week.
See ya next week.
NB If you are are an ‘amateur landlord’ note that you will find friendly support and help on Landlord Law – which was written to help landlords like you - Ed
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