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'Simplify lettings laws and enforce them better' urges buy to let expert

A buy to let expert says there should be stronger enforcement and streamlining of legislation in the private rental sector.

In a report commissioned by the TDS Charitable Foundation, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme’s sister charity, Kate Faulkner says a plethora of rules and regulations are creating confusion amongst agents, landlords, tenants and enforcement bodies.

Faulkner, founder of PropertyChecklists, says a typical English buy to let investor must comply with around 150 rules and regulations and even more if they want to let a property to someone in receipt of benefits.

“There are 4.4m rental properties in England alone so reforming the market would help millions of people. Legislation should be streamlined and funding should be put in place to support enforcement” claims Faulkner.

“Legislation varies dramatically across the UK, with different rules for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Landlords are typically over 55, and employed full-time, so often struggle to keep up with what constantly changing legislation they need to be aware of, and what bodies are responsible for enforcing them” she continues.

“Trading Standards, the Home Office, the Competition and Markets Authority, and local councils all enforce elements of private rental policy, and there is no single point of guidance for landlords and agencies to make sense of where jurisdictions begin and end.”

Faulkner says that as well as a disparity between enforcement bodies, there are geographical differences from county to county. In London alone, there is a huge difference in rates of rogue landlord prosecutions; according to the most recent figures available, Newham prosecuted 359, while Lambeth and Hammersmith each only managed nine.

“The issue needs to be tackled on a national level to ensure uniformity in enforcing laws designed to protect both tenants and landlords. Law-abiding agents and landlords are jumping through not-inconsiderable hoops, and forking out to meet regulations, while the cowboys know enforcement is lax, and are cutting corners and costs” she says.

The result, Faulkner claims, is a two-tier rental market whereby legally let properties are available at a premium while those who cannot afford it must settle for sub-standard, illegal, or even dangerous homes.

“We need a coordinated national strategy on weeding out unenforceable, unclear, and confusing rules, and creating national standards, and enforcement policy. Whoever forms the next government must commit to backing an education campaign for those letting out property to inform them of the law, and how to raise complaints or issues” she insists.

“By tightening up on implementing legislation, tenants will know what to expect, and how to bring rogue landlords to heel. By tackling the causes of the current two-tiered rental market, the quality of the UK’s rental stock will increase, providing better homes for tenants, and better standards for landlords and agents.”

The report - What Impact Is Enforcement Of Rules And Regulations Having On The Private Rented Sector? - is the latest from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme’s Charitable Foundation. In the past it has funded Who Are Our Landlords? and Accidental Landlords.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is owned and run by key bodies in the private rented sector: Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Association of Residential Letting Agents, National Association of Estate Agents, and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).  The TDS Charitable Foundation is funded by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and aims to promote better standards in the private rented sector.

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