How agents can help landlords navigate new and changing legislation

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Helping landlords navigate new and changing lettings legislation is still one of the most important ways letting agents can support landlords – and this year is again going to bring with it myriad legislation changes.

The right agency can take on this burden for landlords and offer them peace of mind. For the price of a full-management fee, agents can help landlords avoid fines and the headache of constantly keeping up to date with the changes – and give them more time to concentrate on what’s important to them.

Most of the Covid-19 legislation changes and initiatives are set to end in the first half of the year, including six-month notice periods and changes to the possession process and the stamp duty holiday. These have been a moving target in the past year, as the government has extended and adapted the legislation throughout the year.

And that’s only the beginning of the legislation changes in 2021. From 1 April 2021, the Electrical Safety Standards have applied to all tenancies – both new and existing, requiring landlords to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is “qualified and competent”, at least every five years and provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants. Complying with this legislation will be a major undertaking for the private rented sector, with ARLA Propertymark originally pushing for a 12-month extension to the deadline.

On top of that, the end of June brings with it yet-to-be-confirmed changes to right to rent checks on EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens as a result of Brexit, while the Renters’ Reform Bill – and with it the repeal of Section 21 – is still on the horizon. Work began on the bill before the pandemic and experts believe that it is likely to be a priority for the government next year.

Letting agents are therefore increasingly acting as compliance officers for landlords, helping them to manage risk so that they can avoid penalties from non compliance, or higher costs in an eviction process if they don’t supply the right documents at the correct time. For example, checking a tenant’s right to rent is mandatory in England, but a government survey into private letting found that only 38 percent of landlords questioned had completed the check with their tenants, while 48 percent didn’t issue their tenants the “How to rent” guide, let alone at the correct time in the process. Landlords should ask themselves if they’re willing to undertake this on their own, or if an agent can help them manage the process more effectively.

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