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PLEASE NOTE: This article was published on the date listed below and may now contain information that has since been updated or changed. We have retained this article as it may still contain helpful comments. However, we advise you to make an appointment to see us for the most up to date information on this topic.

March 2008

The New Property Law Act

Changes for Landlords

On 1 January 2008 the Property Law Act 2007 came into force, replacing the 1952 Property Law Act and several other related Acts, including a number of old English ones going back as far as 1257.
Not everything in the Act is new; some parts of it repeat or codify the existing law. The following highlights some of the changes that have been introduced.

Landlord’s Consent

If a tenant asks a landlord for permission to transfer or sublease premises to a third party, or to change the permitted use of the premises, the landlord must not unreasonably withhold consent. The landlord must respond in writing within a reasonable time. If consent is given subject to conditions or is withheld, the landlord must give written reasons for their decision, if asked to do so by the tenant.

A range of parties affected by the decision may claim damages from a landlord if they suffer loss as a result of the landlord unreasonably delaying or withholding the landlord’s consent.

Insurance Protection for Tenants

If the premises are damaged by an insured risk (e.g. fire, flood, explosion) the landlord and their insurers may not require the tenant to pay for the repairs. This is so even if the damage was caused by the tenant’s negligence.

Landlord’s Remedies for default by Tenant

The Landlord can no longer cancel the lease without notice for non-payment of rent. The matters which must be contained in a notice of intention to terminate are prescribed by the Act. In order to avoid repercussions arising from cancellation after giving an invalid notice, we strongly urge Landlords to consult us before taking steps to cancel.

Distraint

The Distress and Replevin Act 1908 enabled a landlord to enter the premises and seize certain chattels of the tenant, if the rent was in arrears. This self-help remedy has been abolished.

Conclusion

The new Act affects many facets of the law relating to property. It includes leases, sales and purchases, mortgages, access to land and special powers of the court.

Chances are, if you are dealing with land in any way, the new Act will affect what you are doing. With such a major law change, it is more important than ever to seek our assistance at the outset of any transaction.