The changes that have come thick and fast over the last 18 months are confusing for even the most experienced landlords. How difficult is it, to ensure familiarity with the legislation? Very – because there are currently 145 lettings rules and regulations.
Those with large property portfolios will quickly become familiar with the changes, as they are more likely to belong to a landlord association who will do their best to keep members informed, or belong to accreditation schemes through local authorities who will also notify landlords of changes. Agents should also (but will not always) be aware of legislative changes – that is what the landlord is paying for.
But what of the ‘accidental’ landlord, those with only one property and unlikely to feel that paying an agent seems necessary and may be unaware of local landlord associations – how do they obtain the information they need about the legal processes?
Research has found that one in five of these ‘accidental landlords’, landlords by de-fault, do no research before starting to let their properties. Their intention is often to be a good landlord and a friend to their tenants, without having any idea of what their legal requirements are.
A report entitled ‘Who are the landlords providing private rented accommodation’ by Kate Faulkner of Designs on Property, found that up to 40% of landlords fell into this category, with most being aged over 55 years of age; they were also more likely to self-manage. They are a diverse group and often are letting out their former homes or a family home that has been inherited. Ms. Faulkner feels that the large number of older landlords, who do not consider letting a property as their only, or even main, source of income, makes them a difficult group to make contact with; yet reaching these is as important, if not more so, to ensure that they are aware of the changes which could mean they cannot if they want, or need, to evict.
Information and advice can be obtained from this website, but the best protection any landlord can have is to belong to a landlord’s association. Even more than an accreditation scheme run by the local authority, a landlord’s association can offer impartial guidance and advice – accreditation schemes will always mean that the authority will have an input and perhaps give more emphasis to what they want than what a landlord might like.
Most landlord associations will have their own insurance scheme for members which will offer a better rate than going individually to companies and should be able to ensure that all eventualities are covered, but how do landlords find out that all the advice they need is available at the end of a telephone?
This is the difficulty. Local newspapers are only too happy to print the stories of the bad landlord, but not quite as ready to publicise the remedy for the errors landlords make. The private sector must spread its’ tentacles further, so that the single property landlords can also take advantage of the assistance available and avoid the heartache of rejected eviction claims and charges of illegal eviction. Every landlord, whatever size of their portfolio, needs to adopt a professional way of working – and that includes membership of an organization that is there for landlords – and only for landlords.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon