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Landlords urged to get ready for changes to rental sector

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Iain MasonIain MasonNew legislation is about to hit the property rental sector, and two Swindon-based companies are urging landlords to get ready or face penalties.

Lawyers from professional services firm Optimum have teamed up with lettings and estate agency Moovahome to alert landlords to the changes ahead.

“There is a raft of new legislation coming in, which affects the private rental sector, but many landlords may not be fully aware of their obligations,” said Iain Mason, head of legal property services at Swindon-based Optimum.

“If they aren’t prepared, they could face penalties or even prosecution.”

One of the major changes, which was passed by Parliament in February and will be introduced from June 1, is the ban on tenant fees.

Designed to ensure the only fees tenants pay are their rent and a deposit, this ruling means landlords must pick up the bill for all other costs.

These include advertising, credit searches, Right to Rent verification, and completion of a property inventory. The ban on lettings fees will affect all tenancies signed on or after June 1.

Iain added: “The Tenant Fees Bill took a long time to get through Parliament, but now it has become law, it gives landlords the certainty they need to prepare.”

A second innovation is the introduction of a property redress scheme for private landlords. It is already a legal requirement for lettings agents to be part of a scheme, and this is due to be extended to individual landlords. No date has yet been announced, but it is likely to come into effect towards the end of the year.

Landlords who let property through agents won’t be affected, as they are covered by the agents’ membership. A property redress scheme arbitrates when disputes arise.

New rules are also coming in to ensure regular safety checks are carried out on electrical appliances, along with the introduction of electrical safety certificates.

The changes will add to landlords’ current obligations, which include the legal checks they must do before granting a tenancy (such as a Right to Rent checks), protecting a deposit and issuing a ‘how to rent’ guide to tenants.

Ashley Cain, managing director of Swindon-based Moovahome, said: “Along with the tenant fee ban, landlords who self-manage need to understand other legislative changes, such as being part of a redress scheme, having a complaints procedure in place and the introduction of electrical safety certificates. They also have to meet their current obligations, such as Right to Rent checks.

“Omitting these simple things in the letting process could lead to huge fines for landlords, so our advice is to get prepared in advance of advertising your home for let.”

Optimum and Moovahome plan to run a presentation for private landlords, to give them more details of what they need to do to manage their own properties and ensure they are fully compliant with all regulations.

For more information about Optimum Professional Services visit www.optps.co.uk