25 March 2019

Protecting private landlords in wake of ever-changing law

Joshua Briggs Partner & Head of Dispute Resolution

Landlords and letting agents with water-tight tenancy agreements will be able to deal with troublesome tenants as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

And, with an increasing amount of changing legislation a constant, the need is greater than ever to ensure that those managing or owning private rental properties are ahead of the game.

That was the advice of leading professionals in the sector, who delivered a presentation to a packed audience at the Grimsby headquarters of Wilkin Chapman solicitors. Firm Partner Joshua Briggs joined Giles Inman from EMPO, (the East Midlands Property Owners’ Ltd), North East Lincolnshire Housing Programme Manager Jacqui Wells and Home Options and Development Manager Sam England for the event.

Together they briefed the annual North Lincolnshire Residential Forum on past and future legislation, dealing with tenancy issues and specific opportunities and challenges within North East Lincolnshire including homelessness and improvements to areas of the borough including the East and West Marsh.

In a presentation entitled ‘How to make sure you get your property back when things go wrong,’ Joshua said landlords and agents had to ensure their compliance was fully up-to-date and that tenancy agreements were kept constantly under review and outlined all arrangements between the parties. If this was the case, if it was necessary to serve Section 21 or 8 notices, the process would be more likely to succeed without challenge or delay

“If you start off with a good tenancy agreement you will prevent problems further down the line,” advised Joshua.

Of the many regulation changes that had been introduced, Joshua highlighted the full introduction of the Deregulation Act 2015, with its continuing obligation on landlords/ agents to put deposits into an authorised scheme within 30 days of receipt. If they don’t, they can face claims for compensation.

“We are still seeing non-compliance, not only in this area, but nationwide,” added Joshua.

For EMPO, which at 77-years-old is the nation’s oldest non-profit-making private landlords’ organisation, Giles outlined a plethora of regulations planned for 2019, which would further add to landlords’ burden.

“The Government has embarked on the introduction of a series of reforms to help rid the sector of bad practice and encourage build-to-rent developments,” said Giles, who pointed out that the 4.7-million households currently living in the private rented sector represented a 10 per cent increase since 2010.

Civil Penalties, Rent Repayment Orders, a Rogue Landlord Register and Landlord Banning Orders had all been introduced as a result of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, said Giles. He also outlined new or updated regulations covering gas safety, energy efficiency, homelessness, HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupation), amendments to the ‘How to Rent’ guide, a new ‘How to Let’ guide, the 2018 Deregulation Act, the Tenant Fees Bill and the Compulsory Redress Scheme.

“Every day there seems to be a new piece of legislation that affects our business,” added Giles.

Meanwhile, on a local level Jacqui and Sam outlined active and planned schemes to improve some of North East Lincolnshire’s more deprived areas – thereby encouraging quicker letting and tenants’ stability. They also looked at key legislative changes regarding homelessness and how authorities can help.

Actions have included the serving of several hundred Improvement Notices in North East Lincolnshire in the last year, several property inspections and helping the 4,000 households who approach the authority each year for housing advice and assistance. The Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into force in April 2018, has imposed further duties on local councils to prevent and relieve homelessness, said Sam.

“We have a programme of housingrelated support with access to a whole host of services to work with tenants to help them manage their tenancies. If you have a tenant that has problems, get their permission to be referred to us and we will work with them to help them continue their tenancy if possible,” she added.

Joshua Briggs, Wilkin Chapman LLP
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