Being a Landlord
Leaseholders who operate as landlords have a double role in that not only must they abide by the terms of their lease but must also abide by the legislation surrounding the private sector rental market. The main thing they need to do before going down the renting route is to first check the lease to see what the subletting covenants are and ask the freeholder for permission to rent out the property if the lease requires them to do so.
A professional and competent landlord will provide tenants with good homes and allow them the right of quiet enjoyment which they are legally entitled to. They will ensure their properties are electrically safe (before and during a tenancy) gas safe, and smoke and carbon monoxide safe. They will protect the deposits paid by their tenants and be aware of when they can access a tenanted flat in order to carry out their repair obligations. They will also be aware of how to legally evict their tenants, whether it is a case of wanting their properties back (with no breach of the tenancy having been commited by the tenant) or by the tenant having committed one or more tenancy breaches, with the main one usually being rent arrears.
Tenants have two main statutory rights when it comes to being supplied with their landlords address. One is under civil law under s48 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 (notification by landlord of address for service of notices) because a tenant may need to sue the landlord and will need an address for court papers to be served. Note: This does not mean that landlords have to supply their own address so the address given will usually be that of the letting agent. If no address is given, under this piece of legislaton the tenant has the legal right to withhold rental payments until the address is supplied. Once it is, the right ends and withheld back rent become immediately payable. The supplied address can be in the form of a letter.
The other is under criminal law under s1 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 (disclosure of landlord’s identity) which allows the tenant to request the landlords name and address from either the letting agent or whoever collects the rent and they have 21 days to respond in writing. If there is no ‘reasonable excuse’ for not providing the details then the landlord can be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court.
ACCREDITATION AND TRADE BODIES
The best chance of tenants getting a professional and competent landlord is for those landlords to be able to demonstrated that they have some kind of recognised accreditation or that they belong to a trade body. This is however only voluntary with the only area being a statutory requirement is that of letting agents belonging to one of the Ombudsman Schemes although letting agents can gain accreditation through the UK Association of Letting Agents (AKALA). It however the office which becomes accredited, not the individual landlord.
The London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS) was launched in 2004 as a partnership of London boroughs, landlord organisations and educational organisations. It aims to recognise good practice and improve conditions in the private rented sector.
With over 18,000 landlords and 1300 agents and growing, plus 7500 outside of London, LLAS is the biggest and most established scheme of its kind operating throughout London and in many parts of the UK.
There is also the Private Sector Accreditation Scheme for both landlords and letting agents.
If landlords are already accredited with some other scheme such as London Landlord Accreditation Scheme or other approved scheme, the Guild of Residential Landlords allows landlords to passport into their accreditation scheme for free.
Local Authorities have also adopted accreditation, basing their schemes on property inspections and after a percentage of their properties have been inspected, awarding accreditation. Some local authorities offer discounts to accredited landlords such as HMO and License fees
The PRS has taken over from councils and housing associations as the biggest provider of rented homes in this country. Being a landlord is not easy and they have seen the introduction of the stamp duty surcharge of 3% and the scrapping of the 10% tax relief for wear and tear to the property. Mortgage tax relief has also been phased out.
Many landlords also see their regulatory burden to be downright wrong in some areas. For example they are now required to check the immigration status of their tenants and landlord licencing has really taken a hold across many London Boroughs (started by the London Borough of Newham) as well as other parts of the country.
Even their power to evict when there is no fault on the part of the tenant has made tougher since the introduction of the Deregulation Act 2015 which now provides 2 different notice regimes and steps brought in to curtail the evictions under what has become commonly known as those of ‘retaliatory eviction’.
There is no doubt that for many people, renting is a preferred choice of tenure and it works really well for both parties but for far too many, they are forced to rent because they cannot afford the deposits needed in order to purchase their own homes. There is also the issues facing leasehold tenure which seems to be turning the market on its head, with the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership being at the forefront of (ongoing) leasehold reform.
Interesting times for both sectors!