It is not unknown for a passing landlord to walk into our shop on Church Street in Dunstable to ask for some advice. Something they might have read recently or has been worrying them for a while and they need to clarify.
Last year we had 5 landlords who manage a property themselves come in and ask me about the tenant deposit money they were holding. Not aware of the legislation they had either placed the money into a new bank account thinking that was sufficient or had just placed it into their own account knowing they would have to refund it when the tenant left. In all cases they had fallen foul of legislation which insists tenant deposit money must be place/registered in a deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it. For them they had innocently falling foul of the legislation which could have repercussions if the tenant realised. There were a few options available to them and 3 of them decided to hand over the management of their properties to Belvoir realising having spoken to me that there were other processes they should have followed that they hadn’t. Two other landlords who came into our shop last year to ask advice on serving a Section 21 notice to end a tenancy also had not placed the deposit money into a relevant scheme.
In October 2015 it became law for all rental properties to have a smoke alarm fitted on each floor of a property. Before October 2015 I had highlighted this in some articles http://bit.ly/1Mav9uQ and now 16 months later this is still a highly ranked search item on the Internet and nearly 2,500 have accessed my article when searching along the lines of ‘ Does a landlord have to install a smoke alarm’ and clicking on my article found at http://bit.ly/1Mav9uQ. This is a search made by both landlords and tenants and I also receive calls from landlords around the country who have found my article and call me to clarify their responsibility. The cost of a battery operated smoke alarm is £5 so wouldn’t you just install at least one anyway? Before the legislation in 2015 I always carried spare ones and fitted at least one in a property we managed if none were fitted.
I was surprised this week to see a tenancy agreement signed by a tenant this month which was produced by an Estate Agent in London and executed by another local estate agent where the last page of the tenancy was a Section 21 notice to end the tenancy after 6 months. This was standard practice by many agents in the past but the Deregulation Act 2015 brought in new procedures for serving a Section 21 notice one of which is to make it illegal to issue a Section 21 notice within the first 4 months of a tenancy. Therefore this notice signed by the tenant is null and void and it is very surprising to see 2 agents letting this through. I have also not seen evidence that the tenant was issued with the ‘Right to rent’ guide, gas safety certificate and EPC which are also a legal requirement.
This all goes to show that not only are landlords who manage properties themselves failing to ensure the correct procedures have been followed, but also Estate Agents who are acting as Letting Agents as a secondary source of income are failing to keep abreast of all the legislation changes.
Legislation covering lettings is always changing and in the last 2 years we have seen so many changes that many agents are finding it difficult update their procedures so how can a landlord be expected to keep abreast of all the changes.
If you would like to discuss a current property you own that you have rented and are unsure if you have followed the correct procedures please complete the contact form found here: Contact Enquiry
Daniel Bourke is the owner of Belvoir Lettings Dunstable and in his previous career in Architecture he was an Associate in a leading London Architectural practice