Government has been proactive recently, giving clarity for landlords on a number of areas of new legislation. Information on retaliatory evictions, energy efficiency, smoke & carbon monoxide represent a mixed bag for landlords.
The RLA was active in promoting landlords’ throughout the Parliament and welcomes some of the new legislation, but the association is disappointed with other decisions.
Superstrike amendments – clarity at last
The Court of Appeal ‘Superstrike vs Rodrigues’ case created a lot of uncertainty for landlords around tenancy deposit protection. RLA Policy Director Richard Jones was quick to react to the issues raised, drafting the initial amendment to the Deregulation Bill, that sought to address the problems created. There is finally clarity around deposits taken before 6th April 2007, after years of uncertainty. This is a very positive result for landlords and the RLA.
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The RLA welcomes the requirement for all PRS properties to have smoke detectors installed and that a risk based approach has been adopted for Carbon Monoxide detectors to be installed in higher risk properties. Tenants will be reassured that landlords take safety issues seriously.
Read more: RLA welcome new fire safety measures for PRS
Local Authorities will now have to seek approval from the Secretary of State for any Selective Licensing scheme that would cover more than 20% of their geographical area or would affect more than 20% of privately rented homes in the local authority area. It will, hopefully, curb the trend of Local Councils using licensing schemes out of context of their proper use, and will force councils to only consider schemes in areas they are really needed…as opposed to blanket taxes on private landlords.
- Read more: Government revisits Selective Licensing
Letting Agents fee transparency
Letting agents, from the 27th of May 2015, will have to publish a full breakdown of their fees, state whether or not they are a member of a client money protection scheme, and what redress scheme they have joined.
The RLA supported the proposals from Government to require agents to provide greater clarity around their fees for tenants.
Less positive points:
Landlord Energy Saving Allowance (LESA) runs out of time
The RLA was disappointed that Government chose not to extend LESA – a helpful tool for private landlords to assist landlords in meeting energy efficiency obligations. It could be argued that the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) provides the same services, however, it overlooks that the GDHIF is routinely exhausted of funds incredibly quickly and is very bureaucratic. The LESA scheme was simple and easy for landlords to access.
- Read more: Budget a nightmare in the making says RLA
Retaliatory Evictions has been a long fought battle. The RLA condemns any landlords who engage in retaliatory eviction. Section 21 notices will be invalid where a tenant has made a complaint to the landlord, that is not dealt with and where the local council has had to serve a relevant notice. Landlords without Gas Safety Certificates and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) will be prevented from evicting tenants until these documents are provided and it will no longer be possible to serve a Section 21 eviction notice at the start of a tenancy. A minimum of four months will need to pass before a landlord can serve an eviction notice.
However, the Association does not feel that legislation was required as there are a sufficient number of laws in place to protect tenants. Indeed what is required is better enforcement rather than increased legislation.