Three warnings landlords must heed to prevent prosecution or fines

From prosecutions to fines, landlords are being hit for not adhering to the latest regulations and legislation.  Many believe that as owners of maybe one or two private rental properties they can hide under the radar of the authorities, but sadly this is not the case.  Our lettings teams are always working with our landlords to ensure they are compliant, and we want to ensure that as an owner of a private rental property you don’t fall foul of these warnings.

Rent Smart Wales

If you have completed your licence application with Rent Smart Wales but not yet submitted it, or have failed to fully understand the scheme, you need to take action as soon as possible.  Cardiff Magistrates’ Court has successfully prosecuted a number of landlords under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 for failing to comply with the terms of Rent Smart Wales.

We are aware that some Welsh buy-to-let landlords still believe that they are not required to register as they do not set up tenancies or manage their rental properties. This is not the case; every landlord needs to be registered.  There are no exceptions; if you’re a ‘self-managing’ landlord of one property, or a portfolio, you are still required to comply with the scheme.

“A conviction for a self-managing landlord has serious consequences, as a condition of obtaining a licence is that someone is fit and able to carry out letting and management activities. All those who continue to operate without a licence are putting their future business at risk,” said Councillor Lynda Thorne, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities at Cardiff Council, the single licensing authority for Rent Smart Wales.”

Councillor Thorne added “Self-managing landlords in Wales must realise that registering with Rent Smart Wales is not enough to comply with the law. They are also required to pass training and submit a licence application. Anyone who carries out letting or property management duties needs a licence.

Enforcement powers have been active for some time now and we are tracking down and prosecuting individuals who aren’t licensed. Training can help people to become better landlords and, of course, by becoming licensed, landlords will be complying with the law and will avoid prosecution. So it’s important for landlords to complete the registration and licensing process as soon as they can.”

MEES

We have spoken before about the introduction of the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES), which came into force on 1st April this year, yet there seems to be a lack of awareness about the new rules.  Landlords in England and Wales will no longer be able to sign new tenancy agreements unless the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) has a rating of E or above.  This also includes any new agreements with existing tenants.

Make sure you urgently conduct a review of your portfolio as soon as possible so you can plan the necessary works required to bring any properties with an EPC of F or G up to standard.  We urge landlords to bear in mind that it is anticipated that this rate could rise again in the future, so it may be worth future-proofing your properties rather than just putting a sticking plaster over the problem.

Enforced by local authorities in England and Wales, you could be subject to a civil penalty of up to £4,000 for non-compliance.  As well as the fine you are likely to lose revenue due to your properties sitting empty until they can legally be let again.

In-going inventories

Inventories, as we know, are an essential part of the tenancy process.  An in-going inventory provides you with accurate assessment of the property you are renting, it will highlight any existing marks and stains, to the condition of the furnishings offered with the property.

It’s only natural that, over time, there will be some general wear and tear, but the inventory will serve as a reference point when the tenant leaves the property.  Yet we have been made aware of a number of landlords who are failing to provide an in-going inventory.

Without an in-going inventory, there is no starting point or report to refer back to and therefore any claims made to the DPS due to damage are being rejected should no in-going inventory be in place.  We cannot over-stress the importance of inventories when you are renting out your property. 

Advice

Don’t ignore our warnings; instead, come and have your questions answered.  Our lettings teams are always on hand to provide the advice and support you need to ensure you and your properties are always compliant.