Landlords turn to agents as legislation becomes more onerous

April 13, 2016

Legislation for landlords to provide safe and compliant homes is constantly up-dating, but many landlords feel it is becoming more onerous and harder to keep up with.

In a recent survey by Direct Line for Business, it was found that 10% of landlords have no formal tenancy agreement in place at all with their tenants.

The research exposes that where contracts are in place, landlords may unwittingly be asking tenants to sign documents that are not legally compliant. Of the landlords who don’t use a letting agent, 58% used adapted tenancy agreements. 38% of these either adapted old agent contracts or ones they got from other landlords, whereas 20% used an updated template they found online.

At the moment, landlords have to adhere to over 140 Government statutes and regulations in order to provide a safe and compliant home.

The consequences of not being compliant put the landlord at greater risk of tenant problems, significant fines and potentially putting a tenant’s life at risk through non-compliant gas installations.

Earlier this month, the City of Wolverhampton Council won a landmark court case against a rogue landlord in the private sector. Jaspal Singh Sahota, of Blackpool, became the first landlord in the country to be issued with a Criminal Behaviour Order, which will span ten years. The ruling was made by Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court being satisfied that Mr Sahota was causing harassment, alarm and distress to his tenants through the poor standards and management of his privately rented properties in the city.

One of the remedies was that, in future, Mr Sahota must have all his properties managed by a third party letting agent to ensure that he provides compliant accommodation. If Mr Sahota does not comply he will be in breach of the order, and could be imprisoned for up to five years and/or face an unlimited fine.

The vast majority of the U.K.’s circa 2 million landlords are often people who do not even consider themselves a landlord, as they have a day job or career and just invest in property as a pension hedge or to generate additional income.  They may be too busy in their work-a-day world to keep up with their legal obligations.  This can never be an excuse though.

It seems a false economy for this demographic of landlord to manage their own properties, as they may struggle to keep up with the regulatory frame-work and may open themselves up to fines or increased risk. Using a lettings agent can help protect them from risk of non-compliance and ultimately save them money, as their asset will not only be compliant, but also maintained properly.

Here at Northwood, we have an In-House Compliance Department which has the sole remit of keep up with legislation and disseminating that to our 85+ offices around the U.K. to ensure that all our branches are up-to-date and giving their landlords the best possible advice and service.

Our Compliance Department work closely with our in-house Legal Department for that reason as well.

Furthermore, we have strong links to other industry stake-holders, such as Trading Standards, who also check our documentation.

Head of Compliance, A C Forscutt explains how this works for our Guaranteed Rent service option:

Landlords can take additional comfort in the knowledge that all our offices are members of the Property Ombudsman Scheme and the company was one of founding members of SAFEagent. Northwood has been on the High Streets of Britain for 20 years, and have become a trusted brand within the landlord community.

This recent review by a landlord of our Crewe/Sandbach office awarded five stars and stated:

“Northwood Sandbach have managed the rental of my property for 8+ years. The service has always been very professional yet personal giving me confidence that my property is in safe hands”.

Another review for the same office added:

“Northwood, Sandbach have managed a number of properties for me for many years now. Service has always been great! They go the extra step to make my life easier, for example Rena managed fire regulation remedial works with the council and arranged contractors to complete the work at competitive prices.

I work away much of the time and Northwood take away the hassle! Great work. Thanks!”.

And this review for our Northampton office:

“I have been so impressed with the team at Northwood. They are genuinely interested & unlike other letting agents look after your property as if it was their own”.

If you are unsure of about any of your obligations to be a compliant landlord, it might be prudent to let your property through a reputable agent.

Northwood M.D. Eric Walker commented:

“The vast majority of landlords are very driven by price and often look to the cheapest option without considering the bigger picture.

Self-managing or choosing a lettings agent based on their commission may be a false economy as the landlord could end up losing money if the agent goes bust, or could even get fined if the agent does not adhere to all the necessary legalities of renting out a property.

We urge all landlords to consider the severe implications of non-compliance and then choose a reputable agent to partner with to ensure a hassle-free landlord experience.  The cost of ignorance in property management is very expensive and you cannot afford it”.

All our offices around the U.K. are committed to advising landlords throughout their property journey, bringing expert knowledge, contacts, and property management to support your investment and ensure that it flourishes.

To find your local Northwood office, please click >>> here.

Northwood is one of the largest and most recognised estate agents in the U.K. and the leading supplier of Guaranteed Rent to give landlords complete peace of mind.

Find us on Twitter @northwoodUK or visit our YouTube Channel.

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