The resolution of disrepair issues will not always be straightforward in the new world in which we find ourselves. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has therefore released Guidance for Landlords and Tenants.
Please note: the information contained in this legal update is correct as of the original date of publication
The resolution of disrepair issues will not always be straightforward in the new world in which we find ourselves. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has therefore released Guidance for Landlords and Tenants which covers a variety of subjects including payment of rent and possession proceedings, along with addressing the issues landlords may encounter when attempting to gain access to a tenant’s property to deal with disrepair and how to keep tenants and staff safe, whilst complying with repairing obligations. This note focuses on the disrepair element of the guidance.
The guidance makes clear that a landlord’s repair obligations have not changed, but appreciates that planned inspections and maintenance may be more difficult at present. It suggests issues should still be reported to a landlord but that a pragmatic and common sense approach should be taken to non-urgent issues which are affected by COVID-19 related restrictions. For urgent issues, every effort must be made to resolve the problem, particularly if it affects the tenant’s ability to live safely and maintain their mental and physical health in the property.
In the initial stages of lockdown, many landlords simply stopped responding to non-urgent issues. This was an understandable response to the initial lockdown period and the uncertainties faced in terms of the duration of the restrictions, concerns about infection and the protection of tenants and staff. However, as it is now apparent there will be no quick fix to this situation, organisations should begin to think about how they can deliver services and meet their obligations to tenants in a manner that is as safe as possible. Government guidance is now available on how to work safely in other people’s homes where digital or remote alternatives are not possible. The guidance, initially published on 11 May 2020, was updated on 19 May 2020 and is likely to be further updated as the situation develops. Recommended measures include ensuring social distancing by keeping a minimum of 2 metres apart from colleagues whilst at work and whilst travelling to and from sites and encouraging tenants to leave the room the operative is working in. The guidance acknowledges that multiple workers may be required and that social distancing may not be possible. In such situations, the guidance suggests mitigating actions such as washing hands frequently and wiping down all surfaces, keeping the activity time as short as possible, wearing suitable PPE and considering the use of screens or barriers, back to back or side to side working or creating fixed teams or consistent partnering to reduce the risk of infection with a greater emphasis on regular cleaning of equipment where it must be shared. The degree to which such measures are possible will depend upon the nature of the work undertaken and the resources of the employer.
It is therefore vital that a COVID-19 specific risk assessment is carried out by the landlord with consideration given to the type of work landlords are currently able and willing to respond to (taking into account a landlord’s various legal duties), how that work will be carried out and how risks to employees and tenants will be minimised. Where a landlord instructs contractors, it would be prudent to ensure the contractor has an appropriate risk assessment in place to minimise the risks of infection to the tenant and that this is explained to the tenant prior to works commencing to ensure the tenant knows what is expected of them and is comfortable. An example of this would be arrangements on arrival at the property and whilst carrying out works to avoid face to face contact, leaving internal doors to the relevant area open to avoid touching door handles. This will also give the tenant the opportunity to advise as to any specific restrictions for example, due to health reasons they have been advised to shield or they are currently showing symptoms (in which case works should not be carried out unless there is a direct risk of safety to the tenant as a result of the disrepair). The government guidance suggests that it expects those businesses with over 50 workers to publish these risk assessments on their websites and provides a downloadable notice which can be displayed to show compliance with the guidance. As a minimum, the risk assessment and control measures implemented to reduce the risk should be recorded and retained.
In the event a letter of claim is received, careful consideration should be given to the specific allegations made. In particular:
The answers to the above will inform whether or not the repairs should be carried out now or whether they can reasonably be postponed to a later date. The assessment of the situation and all contact with contractors and the tenant should be documented. A landlord will need to evidence the steps they have taken to attempt to resolve the issue and refusal of access from tenant or the inability to engage trades people to carry out the work will support a landlord’s position that they have taken all reasonable steps to respond to a complaint of disrepair.
Law firm Browne Jacobson has collaborated with Wiltshire Council and Christ Church Business School on the launch event of The Council Company Best Practice and Innovation Network, a platform which brings together academic experts and senior local authority leaders, allowing them to share best practice in relation to council companies.
Announced in September but scrapped on 17 November the investment zone proposals were very short lived. The proposal has now morphed into the proposal for a smaller number of clustered zones earmarked for investment.
On 2 November 2022, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the much awaiting case of Hillside Parks Ltd v Snowdonia National Park Authority  UKSC 30. The Court’s judgment suggests that the long established practice of using drop-in applications is in fact much more restricted than previously thought. This judgment therefore has significant implications for both the developers and local planning authorities.
National law firm Browne Jacobson has advised long standing retail client, Wilko on the sale and leaseback of its Nottinghamshire distribution centre in Worksop to logistics specialist DHL for £48m.
Law firm Browne Jacobson is pleased to announce that Suzanne Harlow has been appointed Non-Executive Director of its Retail, Consumer & Logistics sector.
In ‘failure to remove’ claims, the claimant alleges abuse in the family home and asserts that the local authority should have known about the abuse and/or that they should have removed the claimant from the family home and into care earlier.
Earlier in the year a number of fashion retailers, boldly announced the introduction of a charging fee for returning any product purchased via their online store. Yet, despite this commercial, and perhaps somewhat controversial decision, at least one major fashion giant that adopted this approach has recorded ‘historic highs’ in its September profits. Browne Jacobson partner, Cat Driscoll who heads up the firm’s commercial team in Manchester and is also head of its Fashion & Beauty sector discusses whether this change has put the average consumer off and whether the days of free returns are long gone.
This article is the second in a series to help firms take a practical approach to complying with the ‘cross-cutting rules’ within the new ‘Consumer Duty’ (CD) framework. The article summarises what it seems the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is seeking to achieve from the applicable rules (section 2 below) and potential complications arising from legal considerations (section 3).
Across the UK, homelessness is an urgent crisis, and one that is set to grow amid the rising cost of living. Local authorities are at the forefront of responding to this crisis, but with a lack of properties that are suitable for social housing across the UK, vulnerable individuals and families are often housed in temporary accommodation.
The fashion industry has a mountain to climb when it comes to sustainability. More than 8% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the apparel and footwear industries, and approaching three-fifths of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfill within a year of being made.
Updates include UK Shared Prosperity Fund, contracts, Subsidy Control Bill, data controller liability, Government Covid-19 procurement and Highway Code revisions.
Investment zones have been introduced by the Conservative party to get the United Kingdom (UK) ‘working, building and growing’. They are to be designated sites which provide time-limited tax incentives, streamlined planning rules and wider support for local growth to encourage investment and accelerate the development of housing and infrastructure that the UK needs to drive economic growth. Processes and requirements that slow down development will be stripped back with the intention of attracting new investment.
Created at the end of the Brexit transition period, Retained EU Law is a category of domestic law that consists of EU-derived legislation retained in our domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. This was never intended to be a permanent arrangement as parliament promised to deal with retained EU law through the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (the “Bill”).
It is clear that the digital landscape, often termed cyberspace, is a man-made environment, in which human behaviour dominates and where technology both influences and aids our role in it — through the internet, telecoms and networked computer systems, which are often interdependent. The extent to which any organisation is potentially vulnerable to cyber-attack depends on how well these elements are aligned.
Three months on from the commencement of the new statutory Integrated Care Systems (ICS) Anja Beriro and Gerrard Hanratty reflect on the main themes and issues that have come from the new relationship between local government and health.
The Procurement Bill (the Bill) has now been with us for about four months, during which time there have been a huge number of amendments proposed in the House of Lords (circa 320). Lately, there has been less mention of it — unsurprising, really, given everything else going on in politics recently — but here’s a summary of some of the key issues and themes so far.
Browne Jacobson has been named as a supplier on Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Public Sector Legal Services Framework on Lot 1a – full-service provision (England and Wales) and Lot 2a – general service provision (England and Wales).
Browne Jacobson has been ranked as a Top Tier law firm in 25 key practice areas in Legal 500 UK 2023, the independent directory of comparative law firm performance. The firm also continues to underpin its status as one of the leading law firms in the East Midlands region with 16 Tier 1 rankings.
Welcome to our September edition of Public Matters, our monthly round-up of legal updates, news and insights for the public sector.
The Chancellor’s recent mini-budget provided a significant announcement for business as it was confirmed that the off-payroll working rules (known as “IR35”) put in place for public and private sector businesses from 2017 and 2021 will be scrapped from April 2023.
Devolution is the transfer of powers in areas like transport, housing and skills in England and since the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 has been a much-discussed topic.
In this article we look at local authority companies and whether they are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. And for those that are, what information are they legally obliged to submit.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has published a consultation on proposals to require Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) administering authorities (AAs) in England and Wales to assess, manage and report on climate change risks.
The Department for Education (DfE) have announced that the conversion of Donisthorpe Primary School in Leicestershire on 1st September marked the 10,000th academy conversion.