Legislation Concerning Landlords and Tenants is Constantly Changing

If you are a landlord with a single property, or perhaps just a small handful of properties, it is not unusual for people in your situation to let their properties themselves rather than go to the expense of using a letting agent. Others prefer to use a letting agent and so offload all of the hassle associated with finding tenants – good ones – collecting the rent, carrying out mid-term inspections, arranging for repairs, chasing up overdue rents, and even handling service of a Section 21 notice. 

However, whether you are a landlord or a letting agent the rules keep changing – in some instances almost overnight.This may well be due in part to the fact that we keep having a change of housing minister very frequently. Robert Jenrick is no less than the 19th housing minister since 1997. It seems that as soon as one has settled in, then he or she is shipped off to another position or replaced for one reason or another, so there appears to be a distinct lack of continuity.

This can result in constant changes for landlords, with a difficulty in keeping up to date with all the current legislation. For example, writing in the magazine The Negotiator two years ago, independent trainer Frances Burkinshaw recorded that the government’s “How To Rent” guide which has to be given to all new tenants is frequently changed and updated. In particular, in that year she had new tenants moving into a property in early August and decided to get everything prepared in good time. Knowing that there was a new edition of How To Rent issued on June 26th she downloaded it, printed it off and added it to the pack for the tenants moving in during the first week of August.

However, as she recorded, had she blinked, or been on holiday, she might have missed the fact that it had been pointed out to the government that there was an error in the issue in June, and so a new issue was printed in July and this is what she had to give to her new tenants.

As she said, the danger is that if an unsuspecting landlord or agent had used the June issue and then served a Section 21 notice to obtain possession through the courts, it is very likely that the possession would fail. Who would think that yet another version would be released on July 9th?

Service of Section 21 notices used to be fairly straightforward, but now there are a lot of conditions surrounding their validity. As Burkinshaw said, there is no publicity for this sort of thing. Hopefully, an agent would be a member of ARLA or a similar professional body which would keep them informed, but the occasional landlord would have problems keeping up to date with all the changes. Even an agent might not be a member of a professional body, and if this is the case, how would they know about all the changes? Burkinshaw said that what is needed is a lot more publicity and less new legislation. Otherwise, private landlords will reduce their holdings and invest where they have more flexibility, which will have the effect of reducing stock and at the same time increasing rents.

Letting agents with a large portfolio have quite enough to do, what with carrying out interim inventory and producing a property condition survey report each time for the landlord, so keeping track of all the legal changes can easily be overlooked when something takes place such as Burkinshaw commented upon.

Of course, a large part of the job of a letting agent consists of check-in, check-out, and interim inspections and preparing the property condition survey report, which is why so many agents now use our property inventory software at Reports2Go. Apart from any other considerations, it is free to use, and it speeds up the report process considerably. You can download the app from the App Store or from Google Play and install it on a mobile or tablet. Furthermore, you can use it in one of two different modes, either text mode or audio, as it suits you. To speed things up even further, if you use audio mode you can have us type up your report for a small fee, leaving you more time to carry out further inventory.

Gary, 08 January 2021

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