Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
|Long title||An Act to consolidate certain provisions of the law of landlord and tenant formerly found in the Housing Acts, together with the Landlord and Tenant Act 1962, with amendments to give effect to recommendations of the Law Commission.|
|Citation||1985 (c 70)|
|Territorial extent||England and Wales|
|Text of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.|
Under Margaret Thatcher's government, a policy of deregulating housing markets, to improve quality and increase supply, took place. The hallmark was abolition of rent regulation, primarily so that landlords could increase rents to whatever was possible in the market, based on the theory that supply and demand would self-regulate appropriate prices. Security of tenure, where tenants would have to be given good reasons before eviction, was decreased, so that the bare rights under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 remained unless people had contracted for better rights.
The Act was not fundamentally altered by either the Major, Blair, Brown or Cameron governments in reference to fair rents, rights to fair reasons for ending a tenancy, or prohibiting estate agent fees. However, amendments were inserted by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, Housing Act 1996, the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, the Localism Act 2011 and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 made amendments.
Sections 1 to 3A require that landlords give basic information to tenants regarding their identity, including directors if the landlord is a company. Under section 3A, landlords must disclose whether there is a right (statutory or otherwise) of the tenant to acquire the landlord's interest.
Sections 4 to 7 require information to be contained in rent books. Section 5 requires this include the name and address of the landlord, the rent, terms and conditions of the contract, or matters prescribed by the Secretary of State in regulations.
Sections 8 to 10 state it is an implied contract term that the property will be fit for human habitation, which under section 10 includes the state of "repair, stability, freedom from damp, internal arrangement, natural lighting, ventilation, water supply, drainage and sanitary conveniences, facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water".
Sections 11 to 17 place mandatory duties on landlords to repair properties in leases under 7 years that are dwelling houses (where people live). Section 11 specifies the repair obligation includes "the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes)", installations for "water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences", and "for space heating and heating water".
Sections 18 to 30 limit any "service charges" that a landlord can charge a tenant. These are designed to stop landlords, who receive rent, from imposing further unreasonable charges, and section 19 any such charges must be strictly related to cost. Offences are committed by the landlord for not at all time providing relevant information, and certifying the relevant information by a qualified accountant. Section 30A and the Schedule to the Act, inserted by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, give tenants rights to summaries of any insurance policy contained in a service charge. Under section 30B a "recognised tenants’ association" (by the First-tier Tribunal in England) has a right to be consulted about anyone working as a managing agents.
Under section 31, the Secretary of State still has a "reserve power" to limit rents by order. Specifically, anywhere in England or Wales, an order may be passed "(a) restricting or preventing increases of rent for dwellings which would otherwise take place, or (b) restricting the amount of rent which would otherwise be payable on new lettings of dwellings" for any homes, anywhere. This power has not been used in any significant way.
Sections 31A to 39 set out "supplementary" provisions. Sections 31A-C concern the jurisdiction of the leasehold valuation tribunal. Section 33 states directors of companies are jointly liable with companies for offences committed with their consent. Sections 36 to 39 contain definitions.
Sections 18 to 30 form the basis of the legal rights and responsibilities of English and Welsh leaseholders in respect of variable residential service charges.
Significant political discussion has revolved around the reintroduction of genuine rent regulation, to assure a legislative charter of tenants rights. This includes, first, regulation of the maximum increases of rent by a landlord, as operates in most OECD countries such as Canada and Germany. Second, there have been calls to ensure tenants have the right to remain in their home unless the landlord has a good reason to evict them, particularly so that landlords cannot evict old tenants and raise rent on new tenants. Third various proposals have been made to prohibit estate agents charging fees to tenants, in the same way that employment agencies are banned from charging fees to people seeking work by the Employment Agencies Act 1973.
- S Bright, Landlord and Tenant Law in Context (2007)
- K Gray and SF Gray, Land Law (OUP 2011)