How to avoid falling foul of landlord law changes
There are some big changes coming up in the buy-to-let market, as the government continues to tackle rogue landlords and put the private rented sector into order. Here are three changes in the pipeline, each of which buy-to-let landlords should prepare for.
The Property Ombudsman Scheme
It’s about time that the industry had a more formal complaints system. There are ombudsmen in pretty much every consumer industry in the UK: utilities, telecoms, insurance, banking, etc. In October 2017, the Department for Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid announced that all landlords will be required to join an ombudsman scheme. The scheme will provide legally binding decisions in disputes between landlords and their tenants. However this is introduced, you can prepare for it by ensuring that:
- Your tenancy agreements are in place and up to date
- You have a system in place to handle emergency requests from your tenants
- Your property complies with all existing and upcoming requirements, including MEES and gas safety standards
- You maintain a good working relationship with your tenant
This is already applied to many local authorities and is likely to be extended. The government is exploring ways of creating a national landlord licensing system. However, as it stands now, local authorities are given the responsibility to decide whether landlords of buy-to-let properties in their area should be licensed. Fines for letting properties without being licensed can run into thousands of pounds in those local authorities that require licensing.
Stay on the side of the law by checking NOW with your local authority if they require landlord licensing today, or plan to introduce it in future. Then check every two or three months. You’ll need to know what the local authority’s rules are, and to what types of properties they apply.
Rogue landlord database
This is a list you definitely don’t want to be on. There have been trials of rogue landlord databases, and a national database should be introduced in the 2018/19 tax year. To steer clear of being labelled a rogue landlord, avoid:
- Illegally evicting or harassing a tenant
- Using violence to secure entry to your property
- Failure to comply with an Improvement Notice
- Failure to comply with a prohibition order
- Offences in relation to licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation, including HMO management regulations
- Offences in relation to licensing of houses
- Contravention of an overcrowding notice
- Providing false or misleading information
These changes are taking place. Only poorly prepared landlords will suffer unnecessary fines, find themselves in rogue landlord registers, or get into irreconcilable disputes with their tenants. DIY landlords will probably find it tougher than most, and more expensive than those who benefit from the expertise and experience of an investment property manager. To learn how we’re helping buy-to-let landlords stay ahead of the law changes and simultaneously maximise their profits, call one of the Ezytrac team today on +44 01522 503 717. There really is no time to waste.
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