Ignore lettings legislation at your own risk

Natasha Sanchez, Senior Lettings Negotiator

Natasha Sanchez, Senior Lettings Negotiator at Davies Property Partners

A recent report published by the Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, which followed a survey of 1,002 people – 68 of which provided in-depth interviews – revealed some interesting findings about landlord behaviour. Natasha Sanchez, Senior Lettings Negotiator at Davies Property Partners in Cobham, offers her own take on the responses and explains why landlords need professional help now more than ever before.

If there’s one aspect of property management that’s fast-moving and constantly changing, it’s the lettings sector. Just as you’ve got your head around one piece of legislation, another piece appears.

From my perspective, this is no bad thing. Not only does it keep us letting agents on our toes, but it also means that we’re continually adding value to our landlord clients and tenants by being on top of every rule and regulation as and when – and in many cases, before – they arise.

And this is why on reading the report entitled Understanding landlord behaviour in the Private Rented Sector in the UK, I was a little surprised. For example, the report revealed that only 40 per cent of respondents were currently using a lettings agent, 27 per cent of which were for tenant find only, whilst only 13 per cent were using lettings agents to let and manage the property.

Mind the knowledge gap

Perhaps the biggest surprise, because of the relatively low numbers of landlords who use lettings agents, is that over 60 per cent of respondents felt that changes to laws and regulations were not clearly communicated and that 70 per cent said it was difficult to keep up with the changes. Moreover, only 41 per cent of people felt it was the landlords’ responsibility to make sure that they’re up to date on key information and legislation.

So, we seem to have a significant proportion of landlords choosing to bypass the professional input of lettings agents in tandem with a significant proportion not only struggling to stay abreast of key legislation, but actively believing that it’s not their responsibility to do so in the first place.

The Government’s English Private Landlords Survey 2022 also backs this up. The report highlights how over a third (35 per cent) of landlords fall under the mixed compliance category and 11 per cent fall under the low compliance and awareness category. Under the mixed compliance category, landlords showed limited awareness of matters relating to EPC certificates. Under the low compliance and awareness category, landlords tended to rely on friends and family for information about what legislation applied to letting property, and were probably unaware of the significant tranche of legislation that came into effect in 2015.

Lettings and the law

When it comes to letting a property within the legal boundaries, there is a lot to consider and it’s a serious business. Doing it correctly is critical. By doing it incorrectly, not only is it bad practice but you’re also leaving yourself exposed. As our Lettings Directors has previously stated here, ignorance is not a defence.

In some cases, failure to comply with specific legislation carries a risk of fines of up to £30,000, and there are many instances where landlords can quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

There are many potential trip hazards awaiting the uninformed landlord. And it’s the role of a knowledgeable lettings agents to help guide and educate wherever possible. Judging by the report, however, there are many who would rather go it alone and, in some cases, without being armed with the right tools.

If you are a landlord that wants to manage your own property, then all we would say is read, read and then read some more, for only by doing this will you be able to stay on top of everything you need to know to remain compliant. If, of course, you’d rather bypass the administration, legislation and risk that goes with letting a property in Surrey, then simply pick up the phone and contact myself or a member of our lettings team.

Whether you’re a landlord looking to let your property or a tenant looking to find one, we can help. Get in touch with our lettings team by contacting us at any of the three offices below.

         Cobham                         Claygate                          Hinchley Wood
    01932 588288                01372 462323                         0208 3980265 

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