New Protocols for Disrepair (now referred to as Housing Condition) and Possession Claims by Social Landlords came into force on 13 January 2020. The changes are not extensive but will have implications for social landlords. You can find links to the Protocols for possession claims by social landlords here and housing condition cases here.

The key aspects for social landlords to be aware of are:

Pre-action protocol: Possession

There is a requirement for landlords to disclose (not less than 10 days before the hearing) “what knowledge it possesses of the tenant’s housing benefit or universal credit (housing element) position to the tenant”.

Part 1.1 now makes it clear that the Protocol applies to tenancies where the court has no discretion whether or not to make an Order, thereby bringing Ground 8 rent and S21 applications, amongst others, into the terms of the Protocol.

It should be noted that the Protocol does not apply to long leases (usually those leases over 21 years but there can be variations on this so it is advisable to check).

The Protocol (Part 3) requires that the Court has the necessary information at the first hearing if any human rights, public law or equality matters are or maybe raised.

Pre-action protocol: Housing Condition

The change in title reflects the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 (H(HH) Act) which has applied to new and renewal tenancies since 20 March 2019 and will apply to all periodic or secure tenancies as of 20 March 2020.

The changes reflect the extended duty on landlords to ensure that the property is reasonably suitable for human habitation, as set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and H(HH) Act 2018, replacing “disrepair” with “conditions” and “repairs” with “works”.

The new protocol does not address what may have been considered to be the shortcomings in the previous protocol as to the level of information provided to the landlord and there is no question to the expert, in the standard letter, to consider whether the condition of the property presents a risk to health and safety of the occupants.

It is reported that a further amended Protocol will be produced, but there is no current information as to when.