Landlords get blamed for lots of things – their public image is not one to be proud of – and as a consequence new laws and regulations are constantly brought in to challenge not just the rogues, but those middling but otherwise responsible landlords and agents that fail to follow the rules.
Ironically, it’s often ignorance of the law that leads people “innocently” to break the rules, and as our lead article points out, landlords are often ignorant of these rules. There are hundreds of rules and regulations affecting housing in one way or another, so little wonder that even experienced landlords can trip up on these, let alone the average Joe who lets out his own home to a friend when he wants to work away for a few months.
As our lead article points out, communication of the latest set of regulations emanating from the Deregulation Act – most becoming effective just now on the 1st of October – is not only difficult, with a large, widely diverse and hard to reach body of landlords, it will be largely ineffective.
With the announcement of the “Right to Rent” immigration checks for all residential tenancies from the 1st of February 2016, the rules and regulations communications thing is going to get a lot more telling: with fines of up to £5,000 per tenant, landlords will not knowingly want to get caught out on that one.
Should the government be doing more to communicate these changes to landlords, especially those amateurs who rent-out on a more or less causal basis?
The immigration crisis is over the Channel in Europe, but its effects will be felt in Britain for many years to come. The Right to Rent checks will not only place an added burden on landlords and letting agents, with the all the implications that has for ID checks, documentation and the discrimination laws, continued immigration will place an added burden on the country’s resources in terms of housing, health and education.
Good news you might say for landlords, with continued demand for rental housing “going through the roof” for the foreseeable future – most immigrants rent. It could also be good for the country as well – a growing population is seen as a good thing. However, unlike Germany, Britain’s population is growing rapidly already. Now, recent population projections produced by Whitehall have been described as “hair-raising”, with a projected increase from 64 to 70 million within 12 years and even more millions will be added over the next 25 years.
Some drastic new rules are due following the government’s short consultation: “Tackling Rogue Landlords and Improving the Private Rented Sector”. The aim is to bring in legislation that will criminalise the rogues who rent out the “beds in sheds” and illegal HMOs, mainly to immigrants.
I’m not in favour of more and more regulations, but given the above, something drastic is needed because of the difficulties local authorities currently have in tackling the rogues – long time periods and huge staff resources needed to bring them to court, and the often paltry penalties imposed by the courts when they are found guilty. These rogues pay the fines and carry on as normal, treating the fine costs as a business expense.
We have produced quite a lot of information this month to help landlords and agents get themselves up-to-speed with the new rules and regulations:
Deregulation Act and the New Section 21 Rules
Revenge Eviction and the new rules
Tom Entwistle, Editor
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