The Mayor of London, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (the “Ministry for Housing”) and Valuation Office Agency have now issued their long-awaited responses to the London Assembly Housing Committee’s Report. A full copy of the report and responses can be found here.
The response contains some key points which matter from a legal perspective:
- There remain overriding concerns that an unregulated sector may lead to exploitation, which means you need to be aware that local authorities and enforcement agencies may be increasingly ready to prosecute your actions or omissions;
- There is a major pushback to Government to urgently clarify which enforcement powers and authorities apply to property guardianship, as well as reviewing the legal status of property guardians and relevant documentation. However, we do not expect this to happen quickly, and case law continues to be of utmost importance;
- The government does not endorse or encourage the use of property guardianship as a form of housing tenure – this may discourage some local authorities you already work with. If you need help formulating a response to councils you work with, let us know;
- The Valuation Office Agency, rather unhelpfully, continues to rely on its internal guidance on how to assess properties occupied by property guardians (see practice note 8, point 7.0 here.) However, it seems it will consider decisions you consider to be incorrect as swiftly as possible – please contact us if you ever need assistance with an unfair assessment.
We also note the reference to the draft Tenant Fees Bill’s proposal to ban fees in licences to occupy, which covers property guardianship arrangements. We will consider this Bill in a further detailed blog shortly.
The focus is therefore back on Government to take action to review and overhaul major housing legislation. This affords you welcome time to re-focus on your business and your best practices. Ensuring your advertising, contracts with your guardians, and health and safety measures are robust is key from a legal standpoint.
The GLA Seminar
We are pleased to hear the GLA seminar went well and provided another useful forum for lively discussion and debate.
We understand discussions are still underway about setting up a property guardianship forum, which is clear on the law and has the correct mechanisms in place for dealing with complaints or disputes.
If you have any questions or concerns about anything arising from yesterday’s seminar or the above responses, we are on hand as always to help and welcome calls to discuss your thoughts.