Covering all bases
Proper consultation is vital for the green deal or landlords could face legal challenges, says Kate Silverman
Social landlords committed to reducing fuel poverty for their tenants will now be preparing for the green deal, however there is still much uncertainty about how the scheme will work in practice and there are some key points to be aware of.
First, the tenant must seek the consent of their landlord before signing up to the green deal. Most housing associations won’t want tenants signing up on an ad hoc basis and installing green deal measures for which the landlord will be responsible for in future. The issue for landlords is whether they can refuse consent without offering a viable alternative.
Second, landlords must obtain the consent of tenants before a green deal charge can be attached to their tenant’s electricity bill. For works to the common parts of multiple occupancy buildings, the consent of all tenants in the block will be required. Tenants may be reluctant to have works done or take on any additional liability, particularly as there is no guarantee that the government’s ‘golden rule’ - that energy cost savings will be greater than the green deal charge - will be met.
Social landlords will also need to be aware of their obligations under section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, which requires landlords to consult long leaseholders with respect to major works or long-term services contracts. Failure to do so could result in a challenge and non-payment of service charge. If there is any doubt whether or not installing green deal measures is a major work or a long-term service contract, it’s good practice to consult leaseholders and tenants.
Kate Silverman is a social housing lawyer at TLT kate.silverman@TLT solicitors.com