Letting agent fees ban – Thank you for sharing your views

Last year, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced his intention to ban letting agents’ fees in England. With the ban expected to have a big impact on the industry, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched a consultation to gauge the views of the market. And unsurprisingly, it generated a huge response.  

To make sure letting agents, landlords and tenants voices were heard and to help the DCLG gain a broader picture of the market, we ran our own survey to collate the views of our customers.


Any ban should also include landlords

We received 3,286 responses, and although there were expected divisions between agents, landlords and tenants, it was encouraging to see suggestions that people on all sides of the market could agree on. 

Most of the people who took our survey agreed that any ban should apply to all agents and landlords equally, with data held on rogue landlords and agents shared across the industry to help improve standards. 

It’s expected that rents will increase because of the ban, and tenants are willing to accept the rise, if fair. But according to the responses, 86% of tenants were strongly in favour of capping holding deposits. 

Interestingly agents were fairly evenly split between yes (54%) and no (46%) when it came to charging for a premium service in certain sectors, such as relocations. Tenants on the other hand were comfortable with the charges, as long as they’re known up front and representative of the service given.

Also, most people felt that any measures that remove costs, or spread them over a longer a period of time, will help with the affordability of housing and increase mobility in the housing market. 


Lifting the negative perception of letting agents

One point that came through clearly was that many tenants have a negative view of letting agents. Most tenants (86%) felt that a ban, with strong, effective enforcement will help remove some of their concerns and make them more likely to use a professional agent, a point echoed by 70% of agents and landlords who support the introduction of stronger enforcement measures. 

Such a move would not only increase competition in the market, but also force those letting agents with lower standards out of the market – increasing the overall quality of industry service.


What’s next for the private rented sector? 

Implementing the ban is still on the government’s to-do list, but the information published earlier this year shows their commitment to delivering a total ban on fees that will include landlords and tenants. There was also a proposed cap on holding deposits at one week’s rent, and tenancy deposits at four weeks rent. 

Thank you for taking to the time to complete our survey. Your responses allowed us to present a detailed view of the market to the DCLG. We’ll make sure you to keep you updated as the story develops.

The ‘new’ model tenancy agreement

In February the Department for Communities and Local Government updated their ‘Model agreement for a shorthold tenancy’. The agreement is designed to strike a fair balance between the needs of the tenant and the landlord when entering a new tenancy. 

With property prices rising ever higher, getting on the housing ladder is becoming more difficult all the time. As a result, demand for rental properties with longer tenancies is expected to be higher than ever. 

A longer tenancy does have its advantages. A tenant can plan for the future, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be looking for a new place to live in three months. And landlords will have a steady rental income without the hassle of always looking for new tenants (and the hefty fees that often go with it). 

The agreement has a really useful step-by-step process that a landlord and tenant can go through before entering a new tenancy. If you’d like to know more, download the document here

Updates in the Private Rented Sector

The Private Rented Sector has generated many talking points in 2015 and this will continue throughout 2016 and beyond.  New laws and proposals implemented by the Government look set to alter the way letting agents and landlords in the housing sector operate.

Right to rent checks roll out nationally

In 2015, the Government trialled a new immigration law that forces landlords to take responsibility for checking whether their prospective tenants are eligible to live in the UK.  The pilot was held in the West Midlands and though the results were inconclusive, the Government has decided to roll it out nationally.  

From the 1 February 2016, landlords across the country are required to have performed right to rent checks for any new tenancies starting after this date.  

The Home Office has provided guidance for landlords on how to administer right to rent checks, and the documents that prospective tenants must provide. These can be found on www.gov.uk.

Taxation changes

Along with changes to tax relief on wear and tear and on buy-to-let mortgages, the government is also looking to increase tax revenues by introducing a three percent Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge on purchases of second homes. This includes buy-to-let residences, with exceptions proposed for investors buying multiple properties. 

The tax will be applied to all eligible second home purchases from 1 April 2016 and many commentators have said this could affect the PRS and home-buyers’ market, with some suggesting there will be a rush to buy property before the April deadline. Others expect the buy-to-let market to remain buoyant despite increased purchase costs. 

It’s not just about what’s being introduced by the Government, but what’s not  

Many people were shocked by the Government’s withdrawal of an amendment to the Housing Bill currently going through Parliament, which would’ve enforced mandatory Client Money Protection for letting agents.  

With many senior industry voices and letting agents calling for the change, it was disappointing that the amendment was removed. We believe along with others that this would have improved standards in the PRS.  

We were also disappointed to see the Government reject a proposal for rented properties to be fit for human habitation. Rogue landlords who disregard tenant safety have a negative impact on the reputation of the industry and most landlords and agents believe that more can be done to weed them out.  

Many of you responded to our survey about rogue landlords, allowing us to present a collective industry view to the Government consultation on the subject in late 2015. The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has now issued their response to the consultation, displaying strong support for the following measures:

> A blacklist of persistent rogue landlords and letting agents
> The introduction of Rent Repayment Orders
> Additional criteria in the fit and proper person test for licences
> The introduction of civil penalties
> New procedures for tackling abandonment
> An agreement for data held by deposit protection schemes to be made available to local authorities.

The government's response to the consultation discusses each of these proposals and the next steps they plan to take.  You can view the full response on the Government website, www.gov.uk.

Autumn Statement 2015 – What it means for landlords

Yesterday’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer contained some unexpected tax changes that stand to make it harder for small investors to enter the Private Rented Sector as landlords. From April next year, the Government is to introduce new rates of stamp duty for buy-to-let properties and second home purchases, set 3% above the rate for first home purchases.

On a buy-to-let property costing £180,000, stamp duty will be £6,500, whereas under current rules it would add a mere £1,100 to the purchase costs. The new rate applies to all second home purchases, not just buy-to-lets, so investors can’t just purchase a house for personal use and convert it to a rental property at a later date.

The new stamp duty rules, combined with recent increased regulation and tax relief changes for wear and tear replacement and buy-to-let mortgages, suggest that the Government intends to restrict the role of private investors in the PRS, and there is a real risk that landlords feeling the squeeze may exit the market. It’s interesting to note that the higher stamp duty rates will not apply to corporate entities or funds making significant investments in residential property, which indicates the Government is seeking to shift towards a more institutionally managed Private Rented Sector. The Government plans to consult on the policy detail, including on whether an exemption for corporate entities and funds owning more than 15 residential properties is appropriate.

The Government intends to use some of income generated by the increased duty to inject £60 million into the affordable housing budget for communities in England where the impact of second homes has had a particular impact, to help first time buyers get on the housing ladder. It’s not clear how an area will qualify as impacted by second home ownership, nor if new affordable housing can be created in these locations.  

There’s also little indication that the funds generated by the changes will be used to increase the provision of affordable renting. In fact, the statement announces that a pilot to extend right-to-buy to Housing Association tenants will commence shortly with five associations, further reducing the availability of social housing, with the expectation that the Private Rented Sector will absorb the strain.

Many commentators are already decrying the Chancellor’s changes, suggesting that they will in effect choke off investment in the PRS, but it remains to be seen how they will alter the make-up of the market and the type of investors operating in this sector.

A new contract, the same high standards

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve retained the government contract to continue operating our Custodial tenancy deposit protection scheme following a competitive tender.

Our Managing Director, Julian Foster, said: “I’m delighted that the government has again chosen to entrust us with this substantial responsibility.

“This contract reflects the smoothness, transparency, fairness and security with which we have run the scheme over the last eight years – as well as its huge popularity among landlords and letting agents.”

We’re the largest provider of tenancy deposit protection in the UK to date and have been the only operator of a Custodial scheme since our launch in April 2007. We’re thrilled that we have the opportunity to continue providing high quality services to the almost half a million landlords and letting agents we have registered with us, as well as over 2 million tenants who depend on us to keep their deposits safe.

The government invited prospective partners to submit tenders for the scheme in March this year, and as well as awarding us a licence to continue operating our existing Custodial scheme, have given licences to two other businesses to set up new Custodial schemes to run alongside our existing scheme and the three Insured deposit protection schemes.

With the rental sector expanding and evolving, we’ll continue to play a leading role within the industry, focusing on rapid deposit repayment; clear, regular communication with landlords and tenants; and the provision of the best support, whether online, over the phone or in person at events, exhibitions and workshops.

We look forward to building on our relationship with you in the future, and continuing to provide you with the same high standards of service you expect!

The DPS Team

New smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations for landlords

On 1 October 2015, a number of new regulations for landlords were introduced, as a result of the Deregulation Act 2015. This included a requirement for landlords to have smoke alarms installed in their properties. Landlords are also legally obliged to provide carbon monoxide alarms in any premises which contain a solid fuel burning appliance – this applies to any kind of wood burning stove or an open coal fire. It will also extend to equipment such as a solid fuel Aga in the kitchen.

We think tenant safety should be the top priority for landlords, so we asked the London Fire Brigade if they would share their advice following the introduction of the new regulations. Mark Hazelton, Group Manager for Community Safety Development at London Fire Brigade, discusses the recent changes in the law and what this now means for landlords.

Did you know that…

  • 40 people per year are killed by carbon monoxide
  • You are four times more likely to die in a fire at home without a smoke alarm
  • You are seven times more likely to have a fire if you’re living in rented or shared accommodation

Due to a recent change in the law, it is now the landlord’s responsibility to fit smoke alarms at the beginning of each tenancy. It is also their responsibility to test them regularly to make sure they’re working. If these measures aren’t put in place, not only could you be risking the lives of your tenants, you could also face a possible £5,000 fine.

It is vitally important to fit at least one working smoke alarm on each level of a house or home. As the Government statistic above shows, those in rented accommodation are much more likely to have a fire. Many fires happen at night when people are sleeping and smoke alarms are the best early warning, buying precious seconds for people to escape. Only recently, a smoke alarm saved four people from a house fire in Lewisham.

Following the change in the law on October 1st 2015, the Government is giving away free smoke alarms via Fire and Rescue services across the country.
 
In London, fire chiefs are offering free alarms to landlords in areas that have been identified as being more at risk of having fires. You can fill out the following application form to see whether you are eligible for one: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/freesmokealarms.asp

If you’re a landlord in another part of the UK, please contact your local fire and rescue service to ask about whether you are able to get a free alarm. The scheme also provides carbon monoxide alarms to landlords of properties that contain a solid fuel burner, like a wood stove. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can also be bought relatively cheaply at most hardware shops.
 
It really is easy to fit them in your properties and necessary if you want to stay on the right side of the law.

Government Proposals Could Mean Big Changes for Private Rented Sector Landlords

During recent weeks, the Government has proposed a number of changes to legislation, each of which is expected to have a significant impact on landlords in the Private Rented Sector .

The lettings industry is coming under ever greater scrutiny. This added attention is generating a wide range of viewpoints from many commentators, and in many cases, dividing opinion. In this post, we explain each proposal in turn, and discuss the implications each would have.

Tougher Punishments for Rogue Landlords

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), recently invited input from the PRS on new proposals that will make it harder for rogue landlords to operate.

It must be stressed that, whilst rogue landlords make up a very small percentage, they have a large effect on public opinion, and damage the reputation of good landlords everywhere.

The DCLG ’s recent discussion paper was clear -  they want to do more to drive rogue landlords out of the industry - and it included a variety of ways that may help achieve this, such as fines for offenders and the possible introduction of a blacklist and bans for repeat offenders. 

It also explored the use of rent repayment orders, civil penalties and other ways to weed out the rogues, including fit and proper person tests. While these tests already exist, the document proposes making them stricter and less open to interpretation.

We’re really pleased to see the DCLG reaching out to gain the views, insight and experiences of landlords and agents. It’s clear from the discussions and feedback we’ve had, that many of you welcome these steps, providing they don’t result in more red tape. We look forward to seeing the outcome of the consultation later this year.

We also recently surveyed landlords registered with us asking for their opinions on the government consultation, and we’re currently analysing the results. We’ll share our findings with you soon.

Big Changes to Tax Relief

In his recent budget, the Chancellor announced a shake-up of the tax relief rules landlords can currently take advantage of. The capping of buy-to-let mortgage tax relief to the basic 20% tax rate has divided opinion, with many people suggesting it will price landlords out of the market and ultimately drive rents up.

Others, however, have suggested that it levels the field of landlord taxation with homeowners who can’t claim tax relief on their mortgage repayments, making it fairer for everybody.

Then there are some who claim that landlords should treat the renting of their property as a business rather than simply as an investment, and should, therefore, be taxed accordingly. 

Much of the discussion rests on whether landlords view buying a property to let as a way to get more money coming in every month, or whether they see it as a long-term investment, relying on the house to increase in value over time.

Wear and Tear - Consultation

Another area where tax relief changes have been proposed is for wear and tear of furniture and fittings.

Currently, landlords can claim a wear and tear allowance of 10% of rent received, regardless of the level of costs incurred. This means some landlords gain relief where no expenditure has been made, whilst others spending above the 10% level are limited on the relief they can claim. It’s also restricted to fully furnished properties only.

The new proposals will allow all residential landlords (with the exception of those providing furnished holiday lets) to claim a deduction for the cost of replacing furniture, furnishings, appliances and kitchenware provided for the tenant’s use. 

It is important to note that this tax relief is strictly for the replacement of existing furniture and fittings and not for furnishing a property in the first place.

If you’d like to make sure your voice is heard, HMRC are currently running a consultation on the proposals until 9th October 2015. You can view the consultation here.

Right to Rent to go Nationwide

Another recent announcement is the plan to roll out nationally the responsibility for landlords and letting agents to perform ‘right-to-rent’ checks, to ensure the tenant has a right to be in the country. The idea has been trialled in the West Midlands, and whilst the full results have yet to be released, the Government have decided that they will press ahead with expanding the scheme to the rest of the UK.

It’s certainly an intriguing time for the Private Rented Sector and we expect more changes to be proposed. There’s still much discussion and debate to be had about all of these topics, and we expect there to be further changes to the proposals. We’ll be following them closely to see how they develop.

Big changes for landlords and letting agents in Wales

As you may have read, The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 has been enacted by the Welsh Assembly to allow a greater level of control over the housing market. 

Some of the new legislation is due to launch in autumn this year, and from even the quickest of scan-reads, it’s clear to see that it will have a huge impact on landlords and agents.

The proposed changes include the creation of standardised ‘model’ tenancy contracts, but the biggest change will be the introduction of compulsory licensing for landlords and letting agents for both the letting and management of tenanted properties. 

The new licensing scheme will operate as ‘Rent Smart Wales’, with Cardiff County Council appointed to act as the primary registration authority.

What does this mean for agents?

Under the current proposal, to obtain a licence agents will be required to pass a ‘Fit and Proper Person’ (FPP) test, the details of which are still being agreed. Without a licence, agents will not be able to undertake any letting activity including collection of rent, viewings or management. The licence requirement will extend to ‘tenant find only’ agents, though online agents may be exempt from the legislation.

It’s unclear at this point as to which agency representatives will be required to pass the FPP. However, initial indications are that anyone owning 25% or more of the lettings company will have to pass it. This will become clear when the scheme rules are released.

What does this mean for landlords?

The proposed changes for landlord registration will require landlords to register and pay fees to gain a licence for every property they let. Licences are expected to last for five years, at which point they can be renewed upon payment of another fee. Charges have yet to be decided, though to keep fees down, it’s expected that registration will be a short online process, capturing information about both the landlord and the property.  

If a landlord does not obtain a licence to manage a property, they will be committing an offence - unless they appoint a licensed letting agent to manage it on their behalf. It will be an offence to appoint an unlicensed agent.

Developing a Code of Practice

Some additional conditions are being introduced for agents and landlords applying for a licence. Recently the Welsh Government consulted with Welsh industry about the development of a ‘Code of Practice’ which would need to be adopted and adhered to as a condition of having a licence. Failure to meet the conditions of the code could result in both the licence being revoked and a potentially unlimited fine.

If introduced, the code may also state that landlords and agents will have to undertake mandatory training, though it’s not yet clear what the training would cover.

Licensing is expected to commence in autumn this year. Enforcement is likely to start in late 2016 or early 2017, in order to allow agents and landlords time to comply with the law. The Welsh Government has now launched the Rent Smart Wales website, where agents and landlords will soon be able to find out more and apply for a letting and management licence.

Changes to tenancy deposit protection from 6th April 2012

The Localism Act achieved Royal Assent in December and the DCLG has now confirmed that changes to tenancy deposit protection, introduced by the Bill, will come into force on 6th April. Tenancies already in place on this date will have 30 days in which to comply with the new rules. Here’s a recap of the changes due to take effect as a result of The Localism Act:

30 days – not 14 – to protect deposits

From 6th April, landlords and letting agents have 30 days from receipt of deposit in which to protect it.

The re-wording and extension of this timeline also closes the loophole with regards to deposit protection deadlines that was highlighted by cases such as Universal Estates v Tiensia in 2010.

Now, if a deposit is not protected within 30 days, the tenant can take their landlord or letting agent to court – there is no other way to interpret this legislation.

Prescribed Information

The requirement for providing the Prescribed Information to the tenant will also be changed to within 30 days of receipt of the deposit.

Whilst we provide a template for Prescribed Information on our website, it is the landlord or letting agent’s responsibility to ensure it is issued at the correct times so it’s vital they review the Localism Act and understand when Prescribed Information should be issued.

No retrospective protection after the tenancy ends

If a tenant makes an application to the county court once the tenancy has ended, the landlord will no longer be able to retrospectively protect the deposit in order to comply with the Act. If the tenancy has ended, the only option is for the landlord to repay the deposit, or part thereof, to the tenant.

Revised sanctions for non protection

The changes give the courts discretion to award not less than the amount of the deposit and not more than three times that amount depending on the individual case. For example, a repeat offender may find themselves with a larger fine compared to a landlord who has simply forgotten to protect as  an administrative oversight.

Section 21 notices

Further clarity to Section 215 of the Housing Act highlights that a section 21 notice may not be given where a deposit has not been protected within the 30 day period. However, there are exceptions to this which you can view in The Localism Act.

For a comprehensive explanation of each change, read our blog from September 2011 – ‘Tenancy deposit protection amendments proposed by the Localism Bill’. You can also read the The Localism Act (section 184) and view the amendments against the Housing Act 2004 (sections 213 – 215 are relevant).

Over 50% of landlords protect their deposits with The DPS

I’ve just been reading the Private Landlords Survey 2010 (PLS) which shows that 53% of landlords operating in the private rented sector (PRS) use The DPS to protect tenancy deposits. The PLS is a national survey commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It assesses landlords and letting agents who let or manage private rental properties in England.

The survey looks at every aspect of private letting, from acquiring rental properties to letting them out and maintaining them.

You can read the full report on the DCLG website but I’ve listed some of the key findings relating to tenancy deposits here:

›       91% of all landlords (controlling 84% of all dwellings) in the PRS required a deposit before letting.

›       53% of the landlords in the PRS used the custodial scheme, while 34% used an insurance based scheme and 14% used both types of scheme.

›       99% of letting agents were aware of the authorised TDP schemes and 93% used one.

›       67% of landlords were aware of the authorised TDP schemes and 39% used one.

›       33% of landlords were not aware of the authorised TDP schemes

Whilst it’s great to see so many landlords choosing the custodial scheme to protect deposits, it’s worrying that over a third are still unaware of the schemes.

Even 5 years down the line, there’s clearly still work to be done in educating the lettings industry about tenancy deposit protection. Particularly given the continued rise in rent prices – average private sector rents in England and Wales rose by a further 0.7% in September to a new monthly high of £718*.

Higher rental prices mean higher deposits for tenants to part with so it’s more important than ever that all landlords and letting agents comply with tenancy deposit legislation.   

If you’re not currently registered with a scheme and want to find out more, we have plenty of information on our website.

*Source:  LSL Property Services

DPS operating company has applied to protect tenancy deposits in Scotland

As you may know, the Scottish Government is introducing legislation that will make it compulsory for all landlords and letting agents in Scotland who take deposits for a relevant tenancy to protect them with a Government approved tenancy deposit scheme. Unlike England and Wales, there won’t be any insurance-based schemes to protect Scottish tenancy deposits. Approved providers will operate custodial schemes – like The DPS – where the money is handed over to the scheme to protect for the duration of the tenancy.

The LPS Scotland – run by the same company as The DPS – has submitted an application to run a scheme and, once approved by the Scottish Government, will be the only provider in Scotland with any experience of running a custodial tenancy deposit protection scheme.

There are some differences in the Scottish requirements to those in England and Wales which we’ll be looking to communicate with our landlords and letting agents with properties in Scotland very soon.

I’m also giving a presentation on 9th November in Edinburgh to introduce the legislation, what it will mean for landlords, letting agents and tenants and how The LPS Scotland will work once approved.

I’ll also talk about our experience of running the DPS in England and Wales and how that knowledge will benefit the running of The LPS Scotland.

If you’re a registered DPS landlord or letting agent with property in Scotland why not come along to find out how it will affect you - email The LPS Scotland to register your interest.

To find out more about The LPS Scotland, visit the website or read the latest blog post:

The Letting Protection Service Scotland (The LPS Scotland) prepares to protect tenancy deposits

You can also follow them on Twitter (@LPS_Scotland).

Government issues guidance to the lettings industry

Housing Minister Grant Shapps published new factsheets last week to give landlords and tenants a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities whilst renting or letting a property. The landlord factsheet provides advice on picking a letting agent, making sure the property is safe for tenants, producing tenancy agreements and inventories and protecting tenants’ deposits. The information for tenants includes tips on the legal requirements of renting, avoiding disputes and what to expect from landlords.

By providing access to better information on roles and responsibilities, Mr Shapps hopes that unnecessary disputes can be avoided during and at the end of assured shorthold tenancies.

The factsheets are free to download and you can access them here:

›       Top tips for landlords

›       Top tips for tenants 

They also include contact information for various organisations – like Shelter and Citizen’s Advice Bureau – that will be able to help if you’re looking for more information. 

We have also made the factsheets available on the tenant and landlord information sections of our website.

Tenancy deposit protection amendments proposed by the Localism Bill

At our ADR workshop in Leeds last week I was interested to learn that some of the attendees weren’t aware of the changes proposed by the Localism Bill that will affect tenancy deposit protection under the Housing Act 2004 (the Act). With that in mind I thought it would be useful to summarise them here:

30 days – not 14 – to protect deposits and issue Prescribed Information

Currently the Housing Act requires that landlords/letting agents protect a tenant’s deposit within 14 days from the day it is received – the Localism Bill has proposed that this be amended to 30 days. This will remove landlord’s/agents’ ability to rely on ‘administrative oversight’ for any delay in protection.

The requirement for providing the Prescribed Information to the tenant will also be changed to within 30 days of receipt of the deposit.

Closing the loophole

Following high profile court cases – like Universal Estates v Tiensia late last year – the Localism Bill has proposed a change that will close the loophole regarding the ‘initial requirements’.

Rather than it being mandatory to comply with the ‘initial requirements’ of a tenancy deposit scheme, the proposed change will give tenants the ability to approach a county court to enforce compliance by a landlord with its obligation to protect the deposit and supply the Prescribed Information – where this has not been done – within 30 days of receipt of the deposit.

Protection after the tenancy has ended

If a tenant makes an application to the county court once the tenancy has ended, the landlord will no longer be able to retrospectively protect the deposit in order to comply with the Act.

Currently the courts can order either the repayment of the deposit to the tenant, or the immediate protection of the deposit with a custodial scheme. A new proposed subsection to the Act will ensure that if the tenancy has ended, the only option is for the landlord to repay the deposit, or part thereof, to the tenant.

Revised sanctions for non protection

Currently, if a landlord is required to pay a fine to the tenant for failing to comply with the Act, then the judge has to award three times the amount of the deposit. Under the new proposals the Judge will have discretion to award not less than the amount of the deposit and not more than three times that amount.

Section 21 notices

Section 215 of the Housing Act will also be amended to provide clarity that a section 21 notice may not be given where a deposit has not been protected within the 30 day period under section 213(3) or (6), however this prohibition may be mitigated where:

  • the deposit has been returned to the tenant in full or with such deductions as have been agreed;
  • an application to the county court under section 214 has been made and has been determined by the court or withdrawn or settled between the parties.

The above changes are awaiting Royal Assent; if they’re passed they will come into force in April 2012. We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the Bill and if passed we’ll let you know of any enhancements we’ll implement to stay ahead of the changes.

To familiarise yourselves further with the proposed changes, have a look at the Localism Bill (section 171) and view the amendments against the Housing Act 2004 (sections 213 – 215 are relevant).