Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Tenants'/Residents' Associations:Get Recognised: New Laws

This is for tenants in England. It's one thing to have a tenants' (sometimes called a residents') association to keep the landlord in check - so long as you aren't saddled with being its secretary! It's another to be recognised because recognition brings additional rights. A recognised association can appoint a surveyor to advise on any matter relating to the service charge payable to the landlord. That surveyor can inspect and copy relevant documents held by the landlord. And the association's secretary can ask the landlord for summaries of service charge costs and insurance cover, inspect service charge accounts and receipts and ask to be consulted about the appointment or reappointment of the dreaded managing agents.  

How do you get to be recognised? Either by the landlord confirming in writing that they recognise the association or by applying to the first tier tribunal (property chamber) for a recognition certificate. But a minimum number of tenants must ask for recognition. That minimum must be 60% of those who qualify (generally, those with long leases who have to pay a variable service charge). As from 01 November 2018, the 60% is reducing to 50%. However there have been tribunal cases in which recognition has been given to less than the current 60% so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that in future less than 50% could score but there would have to be very good reason for it.

For the change, you can thank (or curse, if you are landlord) the Tenants' Associations (Provisions Relating to Recognition of Information) (England) Regulations 2018 SI/2018/1043.

But how do you get to the magic 50%? In large blocks, the occupiers may be elusive or persons to whom the premises have been let by the tenant who holds the main lease. You may not have a clue with whom you should be communicating. Another change here by courtesy of the new regulations. If the landlord is asked to do so in writing by the association's secretary, then they must provide the secretary with contact details of all qualifying tenants - so long as they consent - for the purpose of ascertaining whether they wish to join the association.  

The new regulations  also specify what matters the tribunal should take into account when deciding whether to issue a recognition certificate - or cancel it.

Much more tenant v landlord stuff in Breaking Law