Agents are being warned about a crackdown on compliance issues surrounding rental property management.
No Letting Go, the country’s largest provider of inventory services, says a crackdown is now underway with local authorities and Trading Standards divisions now taking an even stricter approach to enforcement of compliance obligations.
The supplier cites three recent cases where agents or landlords were hit with fines ranging from £48,000 to no less than £330,000 because of compliance failures; to add to the threat to landlords, earlier this year 100 local councils were awarded an additional £4m to increase rental sector enforcement.
“Enforcement of legislation and regulations is rising and there is a lot at stake for property professionals” explains Nick Lyons, founder and chief executive of No Letting Go.
“Compliance has become an integral part of the property management process and property professionals need to ensure all rental properties are safe, in a habitable condition and meeting the rising number of sector regulations.”
Specifically he advises that every three to six months there should be a rental property inspection conducted by the agent.
Lyons continues: "Tenants generally report serious issues, but often fail to report minor issues until it's too late, That's why it's crucial that agents and landlords carry out regular inspections. What's more, evidence of inspections through mid-term reports can be invaluable if tenants are not looking after the property and further action is needed, or if the local authority is considering taking enforcement action.”
In practical terms, he advises agents to include photographs and notes on the overall condition of the property and its contents, as well as checks on who is living there, any maintenance work that needs doing, and whether there’s smoking and pets within the property.
"During the national lockdown, we have carried out virtual property visits, where a physical visit has not been possible, to ensure properties are in good condition. However, as lockdown measures continue to ease, visiting the property in person - in a Covid-compliant manner - is hugely valuable for letting agents and landlords" he says.
"It's also important to consider how mid-term reports are recorded. Having no audit trail could lead to problems further down the line, while storing reports online provides a quick and easy way to monitor activity and recall details of past inspections if required."
According to Lyons, mid-term inspections should be complemented by a comprehensive inventory compiled at the start of the tenancy to ensure the condition and contents of the landlord's property is documented, while checking for potential compliance issues and hazards such as smoke alarms, damp or poor living conditions.