On 6th April, new rules under the 2016 Housing and Planning Act will come into force. These include the power to fine landlords up to £30,000 if they do not comply with certain legal requirements – a move broadly welcomed by industry bodies representing both tenants and landlords.
When the new rules come into force, local authorities will be able to charge landlords. This is instead of pursuing criminal proceedings when landlords fail to comply with improvement or overcrowding notices and management regulations.
Councils and tenants will also be able to apply to First-tier Tribunals for a rent repayment order to recoup cash from landlords who use violence to enter a property, unlawfully harass or evict tenants, or fail to comply with improvement and prohibition orders.
Any money raised by councils can be used to fund further enforcement activity and so continue to improve regulation in the sector. This aspect has been praised by industry representatives. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) commended the move to ensure that the minority of landlords who do break the law pay for enforcement, while continuing to express reservations about some of the rules for which fines can be levied.
ARLA Propertymark, meanwhile, welcomed both the increased ability to penalise criminal landlords and the boost to enforcement funding. ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive David Cox called on councils to make the most of the new powers, commenting that, “the responsibility now falls to local authorities to actively use the tools at their disposal to raise standards.”
The importance of awareness
While this support may well reflect the feelings of the majority of law-abiding landlords, many will need to be particularly careful to ensure they do not inadvertently fall foul of any regulatory grey areas.
Fostering positive relationships with tenants will already be a big step toward avoiding accidentally being seen as intrusive, or falling into dispute over maintenance duties. However, when it comes to ensuring properties are up to code, landlords will also need to be vigilant in their duties, and ensure they have sufficient cashflow to meet the demands made from them. This means staying on top of rental payments and having systems in place to recoup any unpaid debt.
For more information about how Dukes Bailiffs can help you maintain a healthy cashflow, contact us today.