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Spending cuts mean councils may struggle to exercise new landlord powers

A number of factors including the financial crisis, soaring house prices and a lack of affordable rental accommodation has led to a sharp rise in rogue landlords over the past few years. Although there are a minority of landlords who are negligent, many more are casual or “accidental” landlords who have ended up renting out a property unexpectedly, and who don’t necessarily know all of the obligations they are under towards their tenants or the government.
 
Now, a set of new laws has been brought in after an unusually short consultation period. They are designed to give councils new powers to fine landlords for infractions and retain the money, rather than sending it back to Westminster, as has previously been the case. There are also plans to keep lists of offenders, and ban the worst from renting out their properties.
 
Although clamping down on rogue landlords is laudable, there are some potential issues with the new legislation. First is that it was rushed through, meaning that there are likely to be unintended consequences to some elements designed to protect tenants. This may very well be compounded by the spending cuts that have affected many councils, and will continue to do so over the coming years. Austerity has meant that councils have lost their rogue landlord enforcement officers, and will consequently be stretched to apply the new law.
 
The worst-case scenario is that the new laws will be applied haphazardly, by departments that are unable to serve them properly. If the enforcers do not know what they are doing, there is more scope for confusion, mistakes and successful appeals. Rogue landlords will find loopholes, but others who have made honest mistakes are likely to be punished unnecessarily.
 
To be sure of your obligations under the law, you should consult with a solicitor who understands the rental sector and the new regulations.

Do you have a problem arising from a rental property? Talk to us. We are experienced property law specialists and can give you the expert advice you need. Call 01302 320621 or email info@athertongodfrey.co.uk

 

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