The Housing Act at 10: Is it time to scrap “Frankenstein” law?
Published on 26 Aug 2017

The Housing Act has just celebrated its 10th birthday – and one renting campaigner believes the legislation has “outlived its usefulness...assuming it ever had any”.

2007 saw the Housing Act 2004 come into force in England and Wales, requiring every landlord or letting agent requiring a deposit to place it in a tenancy deposit scheme within 14 days.

The act was designed to stop dishonest landlords unfairly withholding deposits or failing to return them at all, and to keep tenant-landlord disputes out of the courts.

The Localism Act 2011 extended the registration deadline to 30 days, following a number of court cases relating to deposits being registered after the deadline, not registered at all, or registered with key information missing, namely:

•    Tiensia v Vision Enterprises
•    Gladehurst Properties v Hashemi
•    Draycott v Hannels

The Localism Act 2011 also amended the 2004 act by introducing penalties for late registration and for non-compliance even after the conclusion of the tenancy, and also gave courts the discretion to make awards to successful claimants less than the original level of three times the deposit

A further court case – Superstrike vs Rodrigues – created confusion by ruling that any renter remaining in a property after the end of a fixed term tenancy must have their deposit DPS renewed as if this was a new tenancy – threatening to cost landlords who had not done to thousands of pounds in penalties and making it impossible to evict the tenants from their property.

The Deregulation Act 2015 amended the 2004 Housing Act to clarify that if no details of the tenancy have changed in such circumstances, the original tenancy deposit scheme remains valid.

Ajay Jagota of Dlighted and KIS campaigns for reform of Britain’s renting laws.

He said:

“The 2007 Housing Act has been altered so fundamentally over the ten years since its introduction it has become a Frankenstein’s monster of a law and it is hard to dispute that the act has outlived its usefulness, assuming it ever had any.

“The act was designed to keep landlord-tenant disputes out of the courts. Ironically repeated court cases have been necessary to clarify what it actually means.

“In the meantime deposit dispute has hardly become a thing of the past. Figures just this month show disputes between tenants and renters almost doubling in a year, with deposit clashes the second biggest cause of disagreement.  

“Since government plans to cap deposits are likely to necessitate yet more running repairs on this decade-old act, would now not be the ideal time to scrap the act altogether and to introduce something more relevant to the needs of property renters and property investors of 2017?”

Dlighted’s deposit-free renting system makes it easier for landlords and letting agents to find and keep good tenants and lowers the cost of renting for tenants. The system provides property owners with £7500 of asset protection, rent guarantee and free legal support, and 24-7 independently managed repairs

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