The first five parts of the seven-part Act affect private housing and extends the regulatory role of local authorities. The penultimate section concerns the public sector, and the last section concerns supplementary issues. Much of this extensive new legislation paves the way for secondary legislation. The main provisions of the Act are summarised below.
A new Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) gives local authorities extended powers to target health and safety issues. The HHSRS replaced the housing fitness regime (Housing Act 1985) and essentially extends the earlier provision's remit to include external issues of health and safety, as well as internal, e.g., noise pollution or leaking gas pipes.
The HHSRS is to be used by local authorities to assess the condition of homes and comprises two categories, which incorporate 29 classes of hazard. Category one hazards oblige local authorities to take action or insist the landlord takes action, to rectify the problem. Where category two hazards are found, local authorities have the discretionary power to act.
New enforcement measures at local authorities' disposal include Improvement Notices on a landlord, Prohibition Orders to enforce the closure of part/all of a building, and, in extreme cases, the demolition of unfit buildings.
Local authorities have the discretionary power to make houses exempt from this point of law, e.g., student houses. Converted blocks of flats don't automatically need a license. Similarly, the same discretionary power is applicable when adding to the list houses with problems of anti-social behaviour and/or health and safety (selective licensing).
Houses that fail to meet housing fitness standards (refer to the HHSRS above) will not be granted a license. Under the Act, landlords that require but fail to take out a license will be subject to a maximum fine of £20,000 should a local authority seek Court proceedings against them.
The Secretary of State has the power to change the definition of 'overcrowding', at any point in the future. The current standard dates back to 1935 and includes kitchens as 'sleeping accommodation,' doesn't count children less than one-year old, and considers children younger than ten-years, as only half a person.
The Home Information Packs do not currently apply to sales under Right-to-Buy or the first sale of a new home (providing the warranty is provided).
New procedures ensure councils have first offer on any future resale that results within ten years of the Right-to-Buy sale, a clause applicable to any successor in title.
Critically, the period for repaying discounts is extended from three to five years and includes a proportion of any appreciation in the property's value, benefiting landlords.
Local authorities have new powers to tackle problems of anti-social behaviour. They can now extend an introductory tenancy by six to eighteen months, refuse a mutual exchange application, and prevent tenants served with Anti-social Behaviour Orders from completing a right-to-buy purchase.
Technical changes will affect the way registered social landlords (RSLs) conduct business. Significantly, there are proposals to enable RSLs to receive relevant information, e.g., from the police in their own right, as enforcers of Anti-social Behaviour Orders. Under current legislation RSLs must demonstrate that they're acting on behalf of a 'relevant authority,' in order to access information.
Controversially, under the Act, the Housing Corporation and the National Assembly for Wales are empowered to pay grants to bodies other than registered social landlords, such as commercial developers and house builders. The stated aim is to develop the potential for more affordable housing. Under the current system, only RSLs can bid for grants. The Housing Corporation is drafting a consultation paper that will detail how the new grant system should be managed. In 1995 the Conservative Government suggested a similar provision for non-RSL bids, but it was abandoned as too 'free market'.
Immigration Act revised 2016 should a landlord or letting agent fail to ensure ALL tenants/occupiers have a righto reside for the duration of the tenancy then they may be fined £3000 for each breach. The Secretary of State may instruct the landlord to remove such persons without the need of a court order by way of reasonable force
Labour market enforcement - restriction on illegal migrants to work. A labour market enforcement undertaking (an “LME undertaking”) is an undertaking by the person giving it (the “subject”) to comply with any prohibitions, restrictions and requirements set out in the undertaking
Under section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984 it is possible for the Court to transfer a matter from the County Court to the High Court for enforcement but leave (permission) of the Court is required first. The transfer time varies from court to court and can take up to 28 days, but normally takes far less. An application to seek permission can be made either at the time of making the possession claim or after possession has been ordered.