Everything you need to know
Legislation can be a minefield for landlords. Regulations and laws relating to the private rental sector are increasingly in a state of near constant flux, meaning changes can be easy to miss. And this can be costly for landlords who fail to comply.
The latest government survey into private letting found that many landlords are not compliant with basic legislation. For instance, 38 per cent of those questioned did not check a tenant’s right to rent, while 48 per cent did not issue tenants with the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide. Meanwhile, over 30 per cent of landlords failed to provide carbon monoxide alarms. A potentially deadly mistake.
As a landlord, you have to stay one step ahead of changes in the law. Every year brings more stringent legislation and, despite the impact of COVID-19, 2021 is no exception. We’ve included the most recent legislative changes at the start of this guide. There are a number of additional legislative changes that we were expecting later this year, which may or may not happen, such as the Renters Reform Bill and the abolition of Section 21. We will be updating you on these as soon as we hear more news.
While we await further changes, please read on for our comprehensive guide to everything you need to know when it comes to legislation, updated for 2021.
1. Are you aware of COVID-19 measures impacting landlords?
In March 2020, the Government introduced a radical package of measures to protect tenants and landlords affected by coronavirus.
These measures were updated in August 2020 as part of the Coronavirus Act. From that date, landlords have needed to provide at least six months’ notice to their tenants in most circumstances.
Exemptions for complying with this law include where at least six months’ rent has not been paid or where there have been instances of antisocial behaviour or domestic violence. More information can be found on GOV.UK.
2. Do you allow pets?
Recent updates to the Government’s model tenancy agreement include the requirement for landlords who do not allow pets to justify the reasons for their policy. From 29 January 2021 the position is that responsible tenants are allowed well-behaved pets.
If the landlord objects to a written request from the tenant they must respond within 28 days, also in writing.
3. Do you need a landlord licence?
At present, the only UK-wide ruling that requires a landlord to obtain a licence is if a property is let as an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation). A property is classed as an HMO if at least three tenants live there – forming more than one household – and the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities are shared. Courts are known to hand out huge fines to HMO landlords, and agents, who do not obtain HMO licences.
Individual councils are able to issue selective licensing, through schemes that tackle poor housing stock or anti-social behaviour. This includes a 2018 ruling that allows them to define what constitutes an HMO in their area.
It is therefore a good idea to check with your local council to see if your property is classed as an HMO to license it correctly. Landlords should also be aware that there are which will impact licensing regulations.
For more information on the exact guidelines for owning an HMO, please check the GOV UK licence details. You can also check the local area to possible purchase on the local government websites