In this week’s #ExpertView, property expert Kate Faulkner calls for better communication from Governments to landlords and agents on the benefits and practical implications of legislative changes.

Of the 147 pieces of legislation covering the Private Rented Sector (PRS), at least half have been introduced since the introduction of buy-to-let mortgages in 1996, but have they raised standards?

The statistics tell us that while the percentage of homes in the Private Rented Sector classed as ‘non-decent’ has reduced from 47% in 2006 to 28% in 2015.

However, this represents an increase in real terms as the sector grew from 1.2 million in 2006 to 1.3 million in 2015.

The introduction of new legislation in itself is not a solution to the problems the sector faces and should go hand-in-hand with enforcement measures and a communication plan articulating what the new laws mean.

This has been covered in a previous report for the TDS Charitable Foundation; What are the real legal requirements and costs of letting a property, and how can we communicate them better to landlords and tenants?.

Why is this needed?
Without enforcement and good communication, landlords and agents can be left in the dark on their rights and responsibilities or with increasing financial pressure, willfully ignore them.

Complex layers of legislation can be confusing for tenants, and rogue landlords often get away with offering sub-standard homes as tenants don’t know their rights. In reality, tenants hold the power in terms of accepting or rejecting poor or dangerous properties.

A potential solution:
I would like to see a more concerted approach to educating tenants on their rights. Nobody could have escaped hearing about the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), but when rental laws are introduced there doesn’t appear to be the same public awareness campaign.

That is not to say that legislation introduced has been wrong-headed or ineffectual, but it could have had a greater positive impact on the sector if it were backed with enforcement and communication.

TDS Charitable Foundation Report:
The TDS Charitable Foundation commissioned Kate Faulkner to produce research reports into the PRS to improve knowledge and educate landlords, agents and tenants, in line with the Foundation’s aims. Her latest report, What are the real legal requirements and costs of letting a property, and how can we communicate them better to landlords and tenants? is now available to download as a PDF.

About the author:
Kate Faulkner is one of the UK’s leading property experts and runs her consultancy, Designs on Property and the online resource, Property Checklists.

Kate Faulkner Headashot

Kate regularly appears in local and national media, commenting on property matters on TV, radio, print and online titles.

She has now written seven reports into the Private Rented Sector, commissioned by the TDS Charitable Foundation.

About the TDS Charitable Foundation:
The TDS Charitable Foundation Is a registered charity with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and works to achieve its central aim, of advancing education about housing rights and obligations, including:

•    Best practice in the management of private rented housing

•    Legal rights and obligations of those involved in the provision or management of private rented housing

•    Using alternative dispute resolution for more efficient and effective resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants.

About TDS:
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and also provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.

We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.

TDS Insured Scheme: where a TDS member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.

TDS Custodial Scheme: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.

TDS Academy: TDS provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.

TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.

These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.

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