The number of laws affecting landlords in the private rented sector – some dating back hundreds of years – is set to hit 168. In this week’s #ExpertView, National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA) chief executive Ben Beadle explains why the legal framework around the private rented sector  is not fit for purpose.

“The private rented sector is overrun by rules and regulations – and the figure is growing fast.

From the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1730 to the forthcoming Building Safety Bill there will soon be a total of 168 different acts and regulations affecting the way you run your lettings, covering everything from vital safety requirements to the right to keep chickens.

According to new analysis published by us here at the NRLA, by the time the forthcoming Building Safety Bill is passed the number of statutory provisions applying to the sector will have risen by 40 per cent over the last 10 years.

And we believe the sheer volume of legislation means local authorities are struggling to cope, making it difficult to carry out effective enforcement.

Indeed, historic data shows that in 2017/18 a huge 89 per cent of local authorities issued no civil penalties at all against private landlords.

Over half said they did not even have a civil penalty policy in place.

However – sadly – we know there are criminal landlords out there bringing the sector into disrepute and these landlords need to be brought to justice.

NRLA calls

We have two calls, which we believe could make a real difference on the ground.

The Government has pledged to publish a new White Paper on the private rented sector in the autumn, and ahead of this the NRLA is calling for a full assessment of the ways councils use the wide range of enforcement powers already available to them.

Our fear is that proposals to improve the sector for tenants and responsible landlords will be critically undermined if the regulations aren’t enforced properly.

This, in turn, would serve only to help those providing sub-standard accommodation.

Secondly, we want a full review by the Law Commission of the current laws applying to the sector, to establish if they are fit for purpose. If found wanting, we would like to see rules updated and potentially consolidated.

We will be writing to Eddie Hughes, Minister for Housing and Rough Sleeping and Philip Golding, Chief Executive of the Law Commission, to ask for action on both points.

Not fit for purpose

In short, we believe the laws underpinning the private rented sector are not fit for purpose.

They are failing to protect responsible landlords and tenants from the actions of those who bring the sector into disrepute.

Outline proposals for the renters’ reform bill include some of the biggest changes the sector will have seen in the last 30 years.

With such a dramatic overhaul on the cards we think now would be the perfect time to look at existing rules and regulations to see how they can be consolidated or adjusted to ensure laws reflect the realities of a modern private rented sector.”

More information

With such a large number of acts and regulations affecting the way you manage your properties you need to have confidence you are doing things right. The NRLA and Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) offers a comprehensive suite of deposit protection resources, documents and guides on all aspects of lettings, which you can rely on to ensure you are compliant with all relevant legislation.

TDS also runs regular workshops to keep you updated on deposit protection legislation and dispute best-practice. Book your place on the next live course or access workshops on-demand at TDS Online Academy.

TDS is committed to helping its landlord and letting agent customers remain compliant and informed of the latest legislation. If you aren’t a customer of TDS yet, it’s quick to join (even if you use another scheme). Discover why others have switched to TDS: Why Switch?

About the Author

Ben Beadle - NRLA Chief Executive

Ben Beadle is chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), the UK’s largest trade body for landlords.

A landlord himself since the age of 20, Ben started out as property manager before working his way up through the ranks at Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

He was then Operations Director at property management business Touchstone before overseeing the merger of the National Residential Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to create the new trade body earlier this year.

His key aims as head of the organisation are to strengthen the voice of landlords in Westminster and Cardiff, to improve the reputation of landlords in the media and to support members through information, training and accreditation.

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