There has been quite a lot of negative comment about how the lettings industry is being targeted by the government; but in my opinion, this could not be further from the truth. If we cut through the scaremongering and negative headlines and look at just the facts, we can see that there is no “attack on landlords” – just a few more pieces of paper to tidy up an industry that, to date, has had very little regulation or structure.
For decades, the Government has ignored the lettings industry with landlords, agents and tenants all suffering from an industry that has little clarity and a lot of outdated legislation. The recent changes that have been made are rudimentary and overdue.
Deposit legislation (registering and protecting a tenants’ deposit)
This came into effect to protect the real money that a tenant pays, whilst ensuring that both landlords and tenants need to provide solid evidence for the basis of any dispute over end of tenancy charges.
In real-time, we have seen a significant reduction in the number of disputes at the end of a tenancy and a healthy increase in the quality of work and attention that both parties give to this part of the process. It has had a positive effect of reducing the number of times I see my staff stuck, trying to encourage reasonable agreement. Deposit negotiation has now become a business of fact and evidence rather than opinion and negotiation. This change has clearly worked and benefits all.
Criminals disguising the original ownership and control of the proceeds of criminal conduct by washing it through property transactions should not be allowed. It is extremely rare in the lettings industry. By tightening up using technology, this practice can be stopped relatively easily. Again, a benefit for everyone and not harmful to landlords or agents.
Electrical safety checks
Common sense dictates that a property should be safe for anyone to live in. As we become more educated, the knowledge of safety and process should be implemented in key areas of the safety of an individual.
This is not a new idea with building regs and gas safety checks being a legal requirement for decades. I am surprised that electrical checks have not become a requirement sooner. If I were a landlord, I certainly would not want the responsibility (or liability!) should a tenant be injured or killed due to faulty electrics.
Section 21 changes
As far as I understand a landlord can still give notice to a tenant if they don’t pay the rent, cause excess damage to the property and if the landlord has a valid break clause. The landlord can also take a property back at the end of a tenancy for personal use or to sell.
The only people that repeal of the Section 21 notice will affect are landlords who do not get on with their tenant in a professional and responsible manner. In prime central London this is not really an issue, but I can imagine that it will likely calm down the end of the market where landlords do the bare minimum to look after their properties and then move a tenant along should they complain.
By Tim Hassell, managing director at Draker. Hassell founded Draker Lettings, a lettings-only, service driven agency in July 2010.
Draker lets in excess of 700 properties per year. The team is comprised of 20 lettings professionals and opened its second London branch in July 2017.