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Leaseholders who operate as landlords have a double role in that not only must they abide by the terms of their lease but they must also abide by the legislation surrounding the private sector rental market. Before going down the renting route they must 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.

Landlords have three options as to how their rental properties are managed:

1: Lettings Only/Landlord Management

In this option the letting agent will carry out the following:

  1. The marketing of the property;
  2. Providing advice about what rent the landlord should ask for;
  3. The finding of a tenant and subsequent reference checks if required;
  4. Providing the tenancy agreement.

The landlord then takes on all the management of the property when the tenancy starts. The agent will usually charge a one-off fee for their work in getting to this stage. The payment will usually be based on the rent (usually one month) and they are also likely to charge the tenant an administration fee (for the same reason). Both the landlord and agent must be in agreement about what the tenant deposit should be and make sure that the tenants receive protection for the deposits they hand to landlords. The landlord will then have to give proof to the tenant that the money is in one of the three government-approved deposit protection schemes (2 insurance-based and 1 custodial-based).

They will ensure their properties are electrically safe (before and during a tenancy) gas safe, and smoke and carbon monoxide safe. 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.

They will also need to aware of their repair obligations.

2: Tenant Finder/Rent Collection

Self explanatory and again whilst the agent will usually charge a one-off fee they may also add a small monthly percentage for collecting the rent. The landlord will deal with repairs, and regaining possession at the end of the tenancy if the tenancy is not renewed.

3: Full Agent Management

This covers all aspects of management including repairs that can either be carried out without requiring the permission of the landlord or those which the landlord prefers to deal with. Rent collection, commencement of the tenancy and the first steps of bringing a tenancy to an end such as serving notice (but not proceeding to court action) are also provided. This level of service will naturally be the more expensive option.

ACCREDITATION & LANDLORD TRADE BODIES

If landlords want to stand out from the crowd (and there are over 2m of them in operationin the PRS) then gaining landlord accreditation is a good idea. Scheme members will be required to take a mandatory training course and once accepted onto the scheme, will need to obtain regular continuing professional development (CDP) as a condition of membership.  Members will also sign up to the scheme’s code of practice which then allows them to be recognised as ‘fit and proper persons’.

Local authorities usually run these schemes, along with landlord trade bodies such as the National Landlords Association (NLA). Other trade bodies are the Guild of Residential Landlords, and the Residential Landlord Association (RLA). The largest accredition scheme is run by the London Borough of Camden, which is that of the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

There is also the Accreditation Network UK (ANUK) which is a central resource for tenants, landlords and scheme operators interested in accreditation of private rented housing. ANUK provides support, expertise and promotes best practice for scheme operators.

SUMMARY

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!

 

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