Weekly landlord news digest: fire safety, right to rent policy and advert bans

As a landlord it’s important to keep up to date with the latest industry news to ensure that you are aware of any changes, legislative updates and your obligations. Hamilton Fraser’s property experts have picked out the highlights of this week’s private rental sector news to keep you informed!

This week we take a look at the importance of fire safety, challenges to right to rent policy in England and a call for a ban on ‘no DSS’ adverts.

The importance of fire safety – renting family saved by fire alarm

Fire safety should not be underestimated. A renting family of four had a lucky escape after their home caught on fire in the early hours of the morning in Bishop’s Castle.

The family were awoken by smoke alarms in the property that alerted them to the issue and meant they all escaped safely with no injuries. The property suffered extensive damage to the first floor and roof.

Their landlord, Phillip Rogers-Coltman, urged all landlords to ensure the safety of their tenants and property by carrying out regular tests to make sure the smoke alarms are in good working order.

Whilst he praised the swift work of the local fire service he suggested that the ‘real life savers’ were the working smoke alarms.

It is your obligation as a landlord in England to ensure that there is at least one smoke alarm on every level of the property. Find out more about the importance of fire safety and your obligations here.

Challenges to the governments Right to Rent policy

‘Right to Rent’ rules that are aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from renting properties in England have been found to be “discriminatory” and a breach of human rights laws in a ruling made by the High Court. The scheme was introduced in 2016 in order to verify the immigration status of tenants.

Judge Martin Spencer found Right to Rent contravenes European human rights laws and warned that rolling out the policy from England to the rest of the UK would risk breaking equality laws. He also commented that the current system had “little or no effect” on its aim to control immigration and even if it did was “significantly outweighed by the discriminatory effect”.

“The ruling is Right to Rent is in breach of the Human Rights Act because its inevitable consequence is to lead landlords to discriminate. However, the Human Rights Act does not permit courts to strike down primary legislation, so that legislation will remain in place for the moment and checks still need to be done,” said David Smith, partner at property law firm Anthony Gold and policy director of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

His firm took on the government at the High Court in a joint action for the Joint Council of Immigrant Welfare and the RLA.

“At this stage the government has two options. Firstly, to appeal. Initially to the Court of Appeal and then on to the Supreme Court. Permission to appeal has already been granted and an appeal is quite likely. If the Secretary of State were to win that appeal, then the position would be reset and be as if the High Court decision never happened.

“The second option is to take the matter back to Parliament, which is what the Secretary of State should do if he is not going to appeal or he will have to do if an appeal is lost. An Immigration Bill is coming before Parliament to resolve immigration issues arising from Brexit. That Bill could either remove the Right to Rent from the statute book or lead to some considerable amendments.”

The Home Office commented the decision was a ‘disappointment’ and confirmed leave had been granted for an appeal, which is under consideration.