Landlord diversity leaves regulator facing issues

Robyn Ashman

July 5, 2016

Landlords are such a diverse group of people that communicating new regulations to them can be an almost impossible task, a new report claims. 

Contrary to the popular misconception that landlords are ‘greedy’ entrepreneurs who ‘just sit back and watch the money roll in’, the research found that many landlords are over 55s letting out their own former home,and some are not even looking for financial gain; just buying property to rent to friends or family to help them out.

The report, ‘Who are the individual landlords providing private rented accommodation?’ was written by industry expert Kate Faulkner, of Designs on Property, with the support of the TDS Charitable Foundation, which works to advance education about housing rights and obligations.

It found that landlords are as individual and varied as the homes they rent out, with teachers, doctors, web developers, librarians, army officers and retirees among the landlords completing the survey.

And up to 40% of them fall into the ‘accidental landlords’ category.

But while these landlords may try to do the right thing for their tenants, many of them are confused about the ever-changing rules and regulations.

And some are worryingly uninformed; the results showed that one in five landlords does no research at all before letting out a property.

Faulkner, who also runs a free consumer advice website Propertychecklists.co.uk, said: “There are currently 145 lettings rules and regulations on letting. Not only do they seem to be changing all the time but they can vary from one local authority to another.

“It’s no wonder landlords are confused, and struggle to keep up with the law, particularly if they are letting out property in another part of the country to where they live.”

Now Faulkner is calling for those in the PRS such as lenders, legal companies, letting agents, tenant organisations and local authorities as well as government to collaborate to give landlords the tools and incentives they need to let property safely and legally.

She said: “We would like to see the PRS working together to promote trusted and consistent sources of information about preparing a property to let legally, about changes in the law, property maintenance and, of course, where to turn for independent, qualified advice.

“However, because landlords are such a diverse group of people, and with many self-managing their properties, it makes it extremely difficult to communicate with them, unless they actively seek out information for themselves.

“Even if they do their own research about rules and regulations, it can be still be confusing and the report suggests experienced landlords struggle too. This is why they need a clear source of information they can turn to.

“In addition, to encourage best practice, we would also like to see the government introduce incentives for landlords to stay within the law, such as tax breaks or special deals which reward those that are renting legally and safely.”

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