Despite numerous promises to reduce the amount of red tape property professionals had to deal with, there are now even more legal requirements to let and manage rental properties.
The coalition Government started an initiative called the Red Tape Challenge, aiming to reduce the time and associated financial costs incurred by businesses and consumers in complying with unnecessary legislation.
However, recent Government announcements will increase the amount of red tape and infuriating processes that landlords and letting agents have to deal with
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) say there are currently over 100 national regulations governing the letting of a rental property in the private rental sector.
Some of the Government’s changes could be good news for landlords; such as ensuring that letting agents belong to an ombudsman scheme, whilst others will add even more regulation that landlords and letting agents will have to abide by: including making landlords responsible for checking that tenants are in the country legally.
Very few local authorities have the finances or resources to monitor or take legal action against rogue landlords, so in effect all this regulation will do little to deter those landlords who flout the law and ignore best practices.
If the legislation goes through Parliament then all UK letting agents will have to belong to an ombudsman scheme. This means that if landlords have a complaint against an agent that isn’t solved to the landlord’s satisfaction, then the landlord can go to an independent third party, such as The Property Ombudsman Scheme, who will consider the complaint.
Another proposed change in Government legislation will be the requirement for letting agents to be clear over up-front administration fees charged to tenants prior to them letting property.
Tenants often claim ignorance over letting agent fees, however in order for a tenancy to be granted correctly, there will be some administration work required by the agent, such as tenant referencing. Many letting agents are already making certain that prospective tenants are aware of all costs that are incurred prior to the start of a tenancy.
It was announced in the Queen’s Speech, earlier this year, that private rented sector landlords will be made responsible for checking the legal status of migrant tenants, before they would be allowed to rent property. However after a huge outcry from landlords, landlord associations and civil liberties groups, this proposal could be watered down and only applied in certain areas of the UK.
Even with enforced changes in Government legislation it remains highly unlikely that any changes would impact on so called “rogue landlords”, unless extra resources are made available for local authorities to enforce.
Many local authorities are already considering selective licensing for landlords, allowing councils to manage private rental sector landlords more effectively.
Many local authorities charge landlords for the pleasure of compulsory licensing, as this provides the finances to take action against any landlord who fails to comply with local regulations and Government legislation.
Landlords state that the main problem with selective or mandatory licensing, is that it can cost hundreds of pounds per rental property to register for the licence and these charges increase rental property running costs, as well as increasing maintenance costs, as repairs will have to conform with local authority requirements.
From 2018, the government intend to make it illegal to rent private rented sector properties with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of F or G.
Although this doesn’t affect landlords at the moment, there are opportunities for landlords to save money through the Green Deal and financial grants are available, it’s sensible for landlords to make energy efficiency improvements to rental properties, after all, the lower the tenants’ utility bills are, the more money they have to pay the rent and landlords will have to deal with less red tape!
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