The end of the Amateur Landlord is Nigh

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The October Changes

I don’t know about you, but I am starting to feel a bit shell shocked.  There are so many changes going on!

 

The most immediate changes are the new laws coming into force on 1 October. 

These include:

I should say here that these changes are only for properties in England, and will mostly only affect new tenancies created after 1 October 2015. 

However that in itself is an added complication which we did not have before.  Now, we are going to have to ask ourselves:

> Where is this property - Wales or England?  Mostly this won’t be a problem of course, but what a nightmare this is all going to be for letting agents and landlords with properties in both!  They will have to learn two systems of law rather than one.

> Did the tenancy start before or after 1 October? As this will affect the rules that apply to that tenancy - if it is in England.

None of the new rules being introduced are in themselves earth shaking.  In the most part they involve things that landlords should be or ought to be doing already.  However there are now so many of these rules that taken together, the regulatory burden on landlords (and their agents) has become significantly more onerous.

In particular there is the problem that, if they get things wrong, landlords will no longer be able to evict their tenants under the ‘no fault’ section 21 procedure.  Which is hugely significant - being unable to evict an unsatisfactory tenant can cost landlords thousands of pounds - for example in terms of lost rent and maybe damage to their properties.

Procedures, procedures

Complying with the new rules will involve setting up strict procedures to be followed when renting out a property.  Landlords and agents will need to make sure, not only that things are done at the proper time, but also that they will be able to PROVE that they were done. 

Tenants are almost certainly going to be claiming that these procedures were not carried out, particularly in the context of section 21 eviction proceedings.  If they are right, this could also prove costly for agents as they (ie the agents) will be vulnerable to claims for compensation from their landlords - if the failure of the eviction claim was due to the agent's failure to comply with the rules.

Proper procedures will also need to be put into place to deal with complaints about the property condition and detailed records of all contact with the tenant should be kept, ideally for a period of not less than six years.

The importance of training

It is crucial that landlords and agents take steps to keep themselves informed of new laws, and have regular ‘refresher’ training on existing laws to make sure that they are compliant and up to date.  Otherwise mistakes will be inevitable.  And mistakes cost money.

I would recommend that a detailed training program be put in place for you and your staff.  Landlords (and agents) have got to have proper professional training.  Amateurism will result in problems and expense and is simply not worth the risk. 

Training need not be expensive 

Regular reading of free online resources such as the various Landlord and Letting agent websites such as my Landlord Law Blog will not cost you anything.  Why not have a regular ‘training day’ where members of staff take responsibility for researching particular issues and do presentations to colleagues? 

Easy Law Training also has a free ‘e course’ which you can find out about here.

However attending professional training is also important.  ARLA and RICS have for many years provided training for their members as do the landlord associations. 

My Easy Law Training company provides training suitable for all, but we concentrate specifically on legal training and have a regular program of workshops and online training events on legal issues to help landlords and agents keep up with the changes. 

We will also shortly be opening up our spring 2015 Landlord Law Conference in Manchester (sponsored by TDS) for bookings.  Sign up to our mailing list to be kept informed of this and our other events.

Remember - even the most expensive training day may in reality be cheap if it is viewed in the context of the fines and compensation claims that may result from errors and ignorance of the law.

Tenants are becoming more aware of their rights and the authorities are increasingly taking action against poor practice - the end of the amateur landlord is nigh! 

 

Tessa is a specialist landlord & tenant lawyer and a director of Easy Law Training Ltd.


Posted by Tessa Shepperson on 28 September 2015

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