06 May, 2008
The latest incarnation of the Housing & Regeneration Bill currently passing through Parliament appears set to remedy the problems caused by the classification of tolerated trespassers. Tolerated trespassers are those tenants who lose their tenancy rights after a possession order is made against them.
Housing commentators across the country will be mightily relieved at the prospect of such a valuable change in the law. The changes, that have been put forward, which many will feel are long overdue, appear sensible in respect of the legal anomalies caused by tolerated trespassers.
In attempting to abolish the concept of tolerated trespassers, the Communities and Local Government department has elected to follow a three step strategy:
The proposed reforms follow the Communities and Local Government's Impact Statement, published in 2007, with the government department electing to implement the most extensive and radical option of the four presented in last year's consultation. The statement set out the basis for the proposed legislative change and expressed an aim to "remove the problems which the tolerated trespasser doctrine has caused for landlords and tenants by ensuring that tolerated trespassers are not created in future, and by restoring tenancy status to existing tolerated trespassers."
This Impact Statement is briefly summarised at page 265 of the Communities and Local Government's impact assessment.
As with any new legislation, there is a lot more comment that can and no doubt will be made through further articles, bulletins and correspondence. This will undoubtedly have a huge impact on housing associations, creating more administrative work both in restoring tenancies and in the potentially numerous right to buy and disrepair applications. However, from a theoretical perspective, the Housing & Regeneration Bill has finally provided an answer to a long-standing problem. Whilst the bill has yet to be ratified, commentators eagerly await the awarding of Royal Assent which should hopefully consign to history the category of tolerated trespassers as a thing of the past.
Peter specialises in all aspects of public and private housing and landlord & tenant law. Before taking up the law, Peter worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as a national housing policy and practice advisor, before which he was housing and regeneration manager at the London Borough of Camden. He also teaches on the BPP Law School's GDL conversion course (Tort and Constitutional & Admin law), is on the board of several voluntary sector charities and housing organisations, and gives frequent seminars and conference talks on housing and public law.