New landlord rules came into action recently and will have a huge effect on the lettings industry. Anyone caught letting a property deemed ‘overcrowded’ or ‘unsafe’ could face an unlimited fine. Of course, this is a measure to clamp down on the minority of unscrupulous landlords out there who take advantage of desperate renters, but even if you rent out legitimate properties, it is a great time to take stock and ensure that you adhere to all of the new landlord rules.
Origins of the New Landlord Rules
There have been a number of recent cases that highlighted the squalor in which some unfortunate tenants have been living. A landlord was renting a four-bedroom home in Beckton, east London with 11 sleeping spaces, including a tiny understairs cupboard. In addition, a lettings agent in the capital earned a £7,500 fine for renting a property designated for six tenants to a total of 23 people.
With these kinds of stories in mind, the government has decided to shore up the existing rules, add new basic standards for rental properties and uncap the punishment for offenders. Not only do the new landlord rules apply to the size of properties, but also to their state of repair.
New Standards for Landlords
The lettings rules changed this month and apply to licences issued on or after 1st October 2018. They require all rental dwellings for five or more people (from two or more original households - ie. house shares, rather than large families) to meet these minimum dimensions:
A bedroom for a single adult must be no smaller than 6.51 square metres (70 square foot).
Bedrooms for two adults should be 10.22 square metres (110 square foot) or larger.
Children, ten and under should have bedrooms that measure no smaller than 4.64 square metres (50 square foot).
In addition, landlords must ensure they carry out basic health and safety checks on a routine basis. This includes keeping gas and electrical appliances in good repair and regularly tested. If you let numerous properties, trying to organise the correct checks in a timely manner across your portfolio can be a daunting task. This is why outsourcing this job to Executive Property Management Solutions is cost effective and will help avoid fines for you or your landlords.
New Landlord Rules - The Punishment
For landlords without the necessary licences for these properties, for those who fall short of the standard dimensions and those who do not keep on top of the regular health and safety checks, there is a grace period of 18 months to fix the issues. After that, they face fines of up to £30,000. In extreme cases, the fine for failing these new landlord standards is unlimited.
These are potential criminal charges and the reasoning behind the new strict regime was set out in a statement by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government. It read, “The increased demand for HMOs [houses in multiple occupation] has been exploited by opportunist rogue landlords, who feel the business risks for poorly managing their accommodation are outweighed by the financial rewards.”
This is seen as part of a concerted campaign by the government to win over renters. Among other measures, they recently concluded a consultation into making landlords issue mandatory three-year tenancies.
What You Can Do to Avoid Being Fined
To avoid these new landlord fines, you need to keep track of the latest rules and ensure you adhere to them. If you let an HMO and already have a licence, these rules do not apply. However, they will affect you if you need to renew or amend that licence.
Lettings agents can outsource the routine checking of appliances to Executive Property Management Solutions. This saves you time and allows you to concentrate on other areas of the business. EPMS can also draw up tenancy agreements, ensuring that they reflect the current legal situation around the new landlord rules.
Contact us today to learn about how we take the burden from your shoulders. Either call 0208 5757630 now or fill in the contact form at the bottom of the page.