The property industry has hit out at what appears to be government confusion over a raft of new rules coming into effect in only three weeks from now.
Firstly the National Landlords Association says it is “plain farcical” that changes have been announced this week concerning restrictions to Section 21 'no fault possession' notices in two official documents posted online by the government (here and here).
They appear to be challenging for many to understand without additional guidance - which is not forthcoming - and Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the NLA, is up in arms.
“These regulations are poorly worded, badly timed and are being tabled with just days to spare before they are due to come into force on October 1. As we understand it, there will be no guidance from the Government explaining how to comply before then. How can a landlord about to let a property on a tenancy from the start of October be expected to comply with these new requirements if they’ve not been told what they are and what is expected?”
Lambert adds: “It’s shoddy, to say the least. Coming hot on the heels of the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm debacle in the Lords yesterday, which due to official incompetence looks highly unlikely to come into force this year, this is something akin to a Laurel and Hardy sketch.”
And the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are also subject to confusion over the fate of legislation which was supposed to have made their installation compulsory in private rented homes.
Draft regulations were laid earlier in the year to require private sector landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their rental property from October 1 this year, providing local authorities with the power to fine landlords who fail to comply £5,000.
But the House of Lords earlier this week rejected the draft legislation at is final stage on the basis that the proposed introduction is less than three weeks away and that the government has not done enough to inform the private rental sector of the changes. The Lords has also complained that the legislation is poorly worded.
Now the British Property Federation, which has supported the draft legislation, has warned that by the time the legislation is approved, landlords - and agents who act for them - will be left with mere days to comply with the legislation, risking the £5,000 fine.
The BPF has issued further concerns that information about the impending change in legislation has been poorly disseminated, and that many landlords may even be unaware of the changes and the potential fines.
“We’ve been fully supportive of the campaign to make smoke alarms compulsory in private rented properties, and are therefore extremely disappointed to see this unnecessary delay in proceedings” says Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the BPF.
“The original timeframe for the legislation was tight, but allowing time for a further debate in the Lords is going to make this even worse. Coupled with the fact that there has been no publicity on the changes, we are worried that many landlords are going to be caught out by the fine as a result of government’s disorganisation and lack of clarity” he says.
"It is particularly frustrating that one of the reasons that this revocation has happened is because the introduction is worded poorly, as there has been no consultation on this.”