Bungling letting agents with a lack of legal understanding are putting landlords at risk of prosecution, it has been claimed.
One landlord expert has advised caution when signing up with a firm in the current climate of increasing legislation and falling profits, particularly for part-time and accidental landlords.
Some agents don’t always know the HMO regulations that apply to letting three- and four-person shared homes, according to Landlord Licensing & Defence’s compliance expert, Phil Turtle.
He has also dealt with many letting agents who don’t know the law when it comes to fire regulations.#
“There’s a danger of a landlord switching to an incompetent agent who will not be much help because agents don’t always understand the law and regulations," claims Turtle.
"Some agents, as a result, get landlords into trouble and face fines.
“That might be hard to believe, but there’s no doubt that half of the landlord clients we deal with have been dropped into trouble with local authorities by their letting agent.”
He suggests landlords should check that a potential agent is suitably qualified by contacting other landlord clients or by reading testimonials before signing up.
“The bottom line to appreciate is that while a letting agent will be taking a slice of the monthly rent, if there are any problems such as not being properly licensed with the local authority, then it will be for the landlord to resolve – and to pay the fines and, potentially, face a Rent Repayment Order,” he adds.
“Both the landlord and agent face being fined £30,000 if there is a licensing issue.