The Government is moving forward with its quest to professionalise the private rented sector and continues to have landlords in its sights.
This January, there has been a whole raft of announcements and updates concerning measures intended to raise standards in the private rented sector, so here is a round-up:
On the 24th January, the Communities Secretary announced that private landlords will be legally required to become members of a redress scheme - with a fine of up to £5,000 if they fail to do so.
Estate and lettings agents have previously been required to register with an independent redress scheme, and now landlords will be required to as well.
The details were somewhat sketchy, and it is not yet clear when this will be implemented and if landlords who let through a lettings agent will be required to join. It is also not apparent if the two existing redress schemes will be involved if it applies to landlords using a limited company structure, or how much it will cost.
Housing Resolution Service
In the same communication as above, plans for new housing complaints service for the entire housing market were announced – with the intention of ensuring both homeowners and tenants know where to go when things go wrong
The new Housing Complaints Resolution Service will potentially help millions by providing a straightforward way of getting help when faced with unresolved disputes about problems with their home – such as repairs and maintenance.
Unlike other sectors, such as financial services, the housing market has several different complaints bodies, with homeowners and tenants having to navigate their way through a complicated and bureaucratic system just to work out where to register a grievance.
Establishing a single housing complaints service for all parties should assist in making resolution simpler and was largely welcomed by landlords and trade bodies.
David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association, commented:
“Improving and speeding up access to justice in this way would be good news for landlords and tenants.
“It will help root out criminal landlords more quickly, give tenants better ability to enforce rights granted by new legislation on property fitness, and give greater confidence to landlords to offer longer tenancies.”
In July last year, the Government announced new legislation that proposed landlords must have electrical installations in their rental homes checked every five years.
Landlords will be legally required to ensure that the inspectors they hire to carry out safety inspections have the necessary competence and qualifications to do so – with tough financial penalties for those who fail to comply.
Again, details were sketchy and no date was given for implementation, other than the Government intend to introduce new legislation on a phased basis, as soon as Parliamentary time allows.
Ministers have also recently introduced tough new powers for councils to tackle the small minority of rogue landlords who rent out poor quality properties, including fines of up to £30,000 and banning orders for landlords who do not comply.
It was also announced in January that more than fifty councils across the country will share nearly £2.4 million of extra funding to crack down on rogue landlords,.
The new funding will be used to support a range of projects that councils have said will help them to ramp up action against criminal landlords – for example, to build relationships with external organisations such as the emergency services, legal services and local housing advocates.
Tenant Fees Bill
The Tenant Fees Bill, which will be implemented from 1 June, will bring an end to fees imposed by landlords or property agents at the start of a tenancy.
It is clear from all of the above legislation that there is continued comprehensive government action to rebalance the relationship between tenant and landlord.
If you have any further questions about the latest legislation changes, contact your local Northwood office for further advice. You can find your local office details here