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What Does The Future Really Hold For PRS Landlords?

What Does The Future Really Hold For PRS Landlords?

Are PRS Landlords Any Better Off
After The Election?

UK private rental sector landlords may have breathed a sigh of relief after the general election results were announced last week, but is the future still rosy for the PRS?

Conservatives Vowed To Leave PRS Landlords AloneThe Conservatives may have been voted into Government by a small majority over the other political rivals, but will all the election promises be kept or is it more likely that we will see additional legislation concerning rent caps, longer tenancies and changes to tenant’s rights being introduced via other means?

The way I see it, the future under a Conservative Government will be no different from the experiences of the last 5 years.
The main targets will still be PRS landlord’s and letting agents and the victims will always be the tenants.

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Labour Manifesto Aims To Change PRS Forever

Labour Manifesto Aims To Change PRS Forever

Labour’s PRS Rent Control And Tenure Plans Under Attack

Labour’s manifesto confirms their plan to introduce 3 year tenancies and a ceiling on excessive rent rises in the UK’s private rental sector (PRS).

Previous Government’s have tried introducing rent controls and the result discouraged the building of new homes as well as reducing more financial investment in their rental property portfolios by landlords.

For years rent controls caused damage to the nation’s housing market, reducing the number of properties being built and recovery took almost a decade. The current rhetoric being touted around by politicians could have disastrous consequences for house builders and landlords alike.

The introduction of longer term tenancies is very much geared towards tenants but fails to address the problems already faced by landlords when tenants abscond without giving any notice, leaving the landlord out of pocket and looking for new tenants.

The UK’s private rental sector (PRS) has improved dramatically over recent year’s thanks in part to the introduction of tighter legislation, but there remains a delicate balance between regulation and altering the relationship between tenant and landlord. Intervention on rents and security of tenure has in the past damaged both market liquidity and good business values within the PRS.

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3 Compulsory Redress Schemes To Investigate Lettings Complaints

3 Compulsory Redress Schemes To Investigate Lettings Complaints

3 Compulsory Redress Schemes
To Investigate Lettings Complaints

The Government have approved three compulsory redress schemes to offer landlords and tenants in the UK private rented sector independent investigation into complaints in the property management and lettings industry, bringing them in line with redress schemes already in operation for residential property sales.

The 3 lettings industry redress schemes are:

  • The Property Ombudsman
  • Ombudsman Services Property
    • The Property Redress Scheme 

The new schemes will consider all complaints made by tenants and landlords including non-disclosed fees and poor service delivery, and as with residential property sales where a complaint is upheld, tenants, landlords and leaseholders could receive compensation.

Two of the three redress schemes have been around for a while and The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is probably the most recognised of the two pre-existing schemes but little is known about the new Property Redress Scheme.

Most letting agents in the UK are already registered with at least one redress scheme, however 40% of the entire lettings industry, estimated to be around 3,000 agents, are to be encouraged to join up before membership is made mandatory later this year.

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said that he hoped the new rules would strike the right balance between protecting tenants in the UK private rented sector and not harming the UK lettings industry with excessive red tape. The new redress schemes were just one part of the government’s efforts to secure a better deal for tenants in the PRS, stating: “All tenants and leaseholders have a right to fair and transparent treatment from their letting agent. Most tenants are happy with the service they receive, but a small minority of agents are ripping people off, and giving the whole industry a bad name. That’s why we will require all agents to belong to one of the official redress schemes. They will ensure tenants and landlords have a straightforward route to take action if they get a poor deal, while avoiding excessive red tape that would push up rents and reduce choice for tenants.”

The Property Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer said: “TPO experienced a 34.2% increase in consumer enquiries relating to unregistered letting agents during 2013, which really underlines the importance of mandatory redress. Whilst my role as Ombudsman means that I am not a regulator and I can only review complaints after a dispute has occurred, making redress a legal requirement for lettings is a positive move. Clearly it would be better if complaints did not arise in the first place and robust legislation to enforce controls was in place.”

There are thousands of decent letting agents in the UK but there are also a fair proportion of rogue agents who operate under the radar, that lack the much needed transparency on fees and who are fleecing both tenants and landlords alike.

Landlords should ensure their appointed property managing or letting agent is registered with the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) or the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA).

Most UK tenants are unaware that they could be leaving themselves open to exploitation if the agent is not a member of at least one of the regulatory associations.

Housing Minister Wants Crackdown On Rogue Landlords

Housing Minister Wants Crackdown On Rogue Landlords

Government Want New Measures To Tackle Rogue Landlords

Government housing minister, Kris Hopkins, has stressed the need for a fairer, more flexible private rented sector, and wants to raise standards of all rental property conditions and he intends to root out rogue landlords.

The housing minister wants PRS landlords and their tenants to offer their views on what else the Government can do to tackle the problems in the UK’s private rented sector, and what action needs to be taken to further boost the growth of the sector.

In particular, Mr Hopkins wants tenant and landlord views on a variety of new initiatives and safety measures including:

  • Tackling retaliatory evictions where a minority of PRS landlords evict tenants for requesting repairs to the property
  • Requiring landlords to repay rent where they have rented out a property that proves to have serious defects or hazards to tenants health, or where landlords have evicted a tenant illegally
  • Making landlords responsible for improving safety measures in rental properties, such as fitting hard wired smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and periodic electrical safety checks

The UK Government has already introduced an array of new guidelines, including providing local authorities with over £6.5 Million (GBP) to root out and prosecute rogue landlords in their areas.

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Will It Be A Happy New Year For Property Investors And Landlords?

Will It Be A Happy New Year For Property Investors And Landlords?

Goodbye 2013 – Hello 2014!

2013 may have been the year when the recovery of the UK housing market began following the introduction of the Government’s Help-To-Buy scheme and Funding-For-Lending initiative, but it also saw proposals for greater regulation of the private rental sector including extra responsibilities for UK landlords.

New regulation proposals caused major concern among property professionals after the Government announced that they wanted UK PRS landlords to police the immigration status of all tenants. Landlord associations and industry professionals argued over the proposals claiming that landlords would end up unpaid agents of the UK Border Agency and demanded that the legislation be watered down.

The Government want to have more control over the private rented sector as they know that property investors and landlords are able to generate decent returns offering property for rent as tenant demand remains strong, however there is the danger that over regulation may end up discouraging property investors and landlords from expanding property portfolios.

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Will Landlords Be Safe Under New Rental Rules?

Will Landlords Be Safe Under New Rental Rules?

Tenants Charter could put tenants in a

stronger position over PRS landlords

Regulations which hand private rented sector tenants more power and rights to request longer leases have been greeted with cautious optimism, although the new code of practice, intended for launch by the Government, would bring in much-needed protection for many tenants from rogue and inexperienced landlords.

The proposed Tenants’ Charter, could mean honest and hard working landlords are at a disadvantage and could be put off from renting out properties.

The results of the introduction, could lead to another shortage of available rental stock for the UK property market leading to rent increases and landlords becoming trapped by more stringent legal binding agreements.

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Compulsory Redress Schemes For Lettings And Property Managing Agents New Government Measures Intend

To Regulate Private Rented Sector

The Government has announced that there are to be new regulations introduced in 2014 to provide private rented sector landlords, tenants and leaseholders with additional protection when working with lettings agents or property managing agents.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) want the introduction of compulsory redress schemes for lettings and property managing agents will ensure that they can be fully investigated where information is not made clear on additional charges, administration fees or any other property or tenant related issue. The proposed measures are intended to provide a cheaper, easier way for landlords, tenants and leaseholders to pursue compensation from lettings and property managing agents if they have a complaint.

The conditions that have to be met by lettings and property managing agents to be a part of a redress scheme have now been published by the Government.

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Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Industry welcome to weak tenants’ charter that could see UK PRS landlords at odds with

Buy-To-Let Mortgage Lenders

The new tenants’ charter was announced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG), Eric Pickles, last Wednesday, allowing tenants to ask for longer tenancies and better transparency of letting agents’ fees.

The new tenants’ charter will also aim to force all lettings and property managing agents controlling PRS rental properties to join a compulsory redress scheme.

The Tenants’ Charter, published for consultation, outlines what tenants should be looking out for at every stage when renting a property in the UK’s private rented sector, including lettings agents having to inform customers what all their fees are upfront, before they have committed to anything, including visiting a property.

However, the introduction of these terms under the banner of the tenants’ charter could threaten the business future of large numbers of landlords who would technically be in breach of the strict buy-to-let mortgage terms imposed by many mortgage lenders, which generally stipulate that tenancy agreements are to be for a period of no more than one year.

Secretary Of State For Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles

Secretary Of State For Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles

Mr Pickles stated that the Government intend to publish a code of practice setting standards for the management of property in the private rental sector (PRS) along with guidance setting out the role of public bodies in protecting tenants from illegal eviction.

Mr Pickles said: “This government is on the side of hardworking people and the last thing we want to do is hurt tenants and kill (property) investment by increasing costs and strangling the sector with red tape. But tenants deserve better value for money, and dodgy landlords should be under no illusion they can provide a shoddy service with impunity. These proposals will raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation, root out the cowboys and rogue operators in the sector, and give tenants the confidence to request longer fixed-term, family-friendly tenancies that meet their needs”

Mr Pickles also said that the Government will develop a model tenancy agreement which will clearly set out the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, and ensure families can benefit from longer tenancies, without changing the existing legal framework for the rental market. He said “Longer tenancies will give families greater certainty and security, especially for those with children at school, and reduce costs for both tenants and landlords who will not have to pay letting agents to arrange frequent contract renewals.”

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee said: “I am pleased that the Government has embraced many of the recommendations in our private rented sector report. The proposals for a tenants’ charter and model tenancy agreements reflect our calls for greater awareness of rights and responsibilities. Far too often the security needed by families is not being provided by the private rented sector. I am pleased, therefore, that the Government has listened to what the Committee said about the need for more family friendly tenancies. It is also welcome that the Government is taking forward our proposal to allow rent and housing benefit to be clawed back when landlords have been convicted of letting out dangerous property. The Committee will be watching closely to ensure that they are translated into action. We will also press to ensure that the Government’s gathering of information on selective licensing leads to action to raise standards. Much remains to be done if renting is to become an attractive alternative to owner occupation. It is disappointing; therefore, that the Government does not see fit to crack down on cowboy letting agents and their rip off fees and charges. It is also regrettable that the Government has declined to give local authorities the powers and freedom they need to improve housing in their areas.”

Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current
Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Property professionals generally agree with the introduction of the new tenants’ charter but many think that the Government have sidestepped the opportunity to enforce much tighter regulation of landlords in the private rental sector and lettings and property managing agents in particular and many feel that the new measures fall short of what is really needed.

It will be interesting to see if the Government put pressure on the banks and mainstream mortgage lenders to abolish or ignore such limiting clauses, allowing them to deliver on the real aim of the tenants’ charter.

Caroline Kenny, an executive of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) wants the Government to build on the experience and expertise of those industry bodies which already require higher standards of their members. Commenting “Responsible agents who choose to belong to professional bodies which require client money protection insurance, impartial redress and an adherence to a strict Code of Practice are forced to compete with those who show little regard to professional standards or the needs of their clients. UKLA believe that this package of proposals represents a missed opportunity for the Government to make mandatory the kind of comprehensive protection offered by the UK Association of Letting Agents and other industry regulatory bodies, which are called UKALA & NLAfor by those working in the property industry and needed by hardworking consumers who are unable to differentiate between good and bad letting agents.”

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive of the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: “The NLA has long argued that private renting can be far more flexible than commonly perceived, and we need to tap into this potential to meet the changing needs and expectations of those who rent. We look forward to working with government to make a success of these proposals. However, we believe that the Government has missed an opportunity to require greater professionalism of letting agents. While the requirement to belong to an approved redress scheme is a step in the right direction, it does little to protect the financial interest of landlords and tenants working with unregulated agents.”

Residential Landlords Association

Join The Residential Landlords Association

Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) welcomed the Government action to improve tenants’ understanding of their rights and responsibilities saying: “Tenants take more trouble buying a second-hand car than renting a house” Ensuring that tenants and landlords each understand clearly their rights and obligations to one another ensures a balanced relationship and enables them to hold each other to account based on the large number of laws already in existence. It will also play a vital role in rooting out those willfully criminal landlords who reap misery on tenants. We look forward to working with Ministers on the Charter as well as on how to best get this information to tenants.”

RICSPeter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said “The long overdue announcement was definitely a step in the right direction. The lettings sector has for far too long been the Wild West of the property industry, with many tenants having absolutely nowhere to go should they wish to complain about shoddy service. The introduction of a code of practice specifically covering those managing rented property should certainly improve standards.”

Chief Executive of the Housing & Homelessness charity Shelter, Campbell Robb said “This announcement is recognition that current private renting arrangements are not fit for families with children, who need greater long-term stability. This is a welcome step in the right direction, and ministers now need to consider how to make longer tenancies a real choice for the families desperate for a more stable place to live.”

The announcement of the new Tenants’ Charter was good news for consumer champions, Which? Who have been campaigning since 2007 when they first called for an amendment to the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 requiring letting agents to join an approved complaints scheme, just as property sales agents are. The consumer groups investigations also discovered earlier this year that major letting agents are acting unlawfully by not being upfront about the fees charged to clients.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, looks set to be implemented in Spring 2014, giving all landlords and tenants access to a complaints scheme. This will mean that 40% of agents who currently aren’t signed up to a redress scheme will have to become members

Which? Executive Director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Renting is now the only housing option for millions so we’re pleased to see the Government taking steps to address problems in the lettings market. Making charges clear upfront will enable people to shop around more easily, and longer tenancies could mark the end of unnecessary renewal fees. The new legislation giving landlords and tenants access to a complaints scheme now needs to be brought in as soon as possible and there must be strong action taken against any agent in breach of the scheme.”

  • Do you think the proposals go far enough?

Take our Poll on the Tenants Charter or leave a comment below!

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More Red Tape For LandlordsRed Tape Increases For Private Sector Landlords
Despite Government Promises

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.

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MP’s Table New Proposals To Regulate Private Lettings Market

MP’s Table New Proposals To Regulate Private Lettings Market

Two new proposals have been individually tabled by Labour MP’s calling for the regulation of landlords and lettings agents.

Former Labour housing minister John Healey and veteran Labour backbencher, Sir Alan Meale, made the proposals in the House of Commons separately but both are calling for better regulation of the private rental sector

Mr Healey’s Bill seeks to introduce mandatory licensing for lettings and property managing agents and a ban on lettings agents charging fees and is called “The Letting Agents (Competition, Choice and Standards) Bill 2013-14”.

The objective of the proposal is to establish a national mandatory licensing scheme for lettings and managing agents, with established standards and redress for landlords, tenants and leaseholders, and prohibition of lettings and management agent fees; to enable local authorities to administer and enforce the scheme; to require that tenants, landlords and leaseholders have written agreements; and to empower local authorities, either alone or in partnership, to trade as letting and managing agents.”

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