There are several changes coming into play in the lettings industry in 2015 that landlords need to be aware of.
- As part of the Immigration Act 2014 landlords will be responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants, the pilot scheme in the west Midlands is now expected to be rolled out across the country. Landlords face fines of up to £3,000 if they fail to determine if the tenant has a right to live in the UK before they grant tenancy.
- Other issues include increasing pressure for rental controls to prevent the cost of renting increasing for tenants. Market forces and lack of property in the rental and sale market are pushing up the cost of rental accommodation naturally and intervention could have negative impact, deterring landlords from entering the market, growing or retaining their lettings portfolios, so exacerbating the stock shortage issue.
- Selective Licencing is another scheme, currently only rolled out in a few locations, which has received less press. This scheme requires all landlords to obtain a licence and is intended to address the impact of poor quality landlords and anti-social tenants on the lettings industry.
- There are other changes that have been implemented in Wales and Scotland; sharing selected tenant data with water companies or face joint liability for tenants water debt, and new rules on tenancy length and ‘Notice to quit’ to give tenants more security and rental control, respectively. Though we don’t know if these will take off and be introduced in England.
As more and more regulations are bought in it is essential that landlord use the services of a professional letting agent who can advise them on all the current legislation that affects the PRS (Private Rental Sector).
One could argue that the responsibility to check the immigration status of an individual should not rest with the letting agent however the last thing a letting agent wants is for his landlord client to find that his tenant has no right to be in the Country and therefore no right to rent a property – the nett result being that the tenant has to vacate leaving an empty property and a very unhappy landlord.
At Mackenzie Smith we use an independent referencing specialist company called Van Mildert who not only carry out all the usual credit checks but also new checks on the immigration status of prospective tenants.
The PRS will continue to be heavily regulated and rightly so. All reputable letting agents and landlords should welcome the regulations as ultimately they will make it almost impossible for rogue agents and landlords to carry on with dubious intentions. Tenants have the right to rent a property that is safe and fit to live in. Landlords have the right to quality tenants who will look after the property and pay the rent and any regulations that make this situation easier to control has to be a good thing.
Michael Clarke (MARLA), Lettings Director
(01252) 514000 | firstname.lastname@example.org