Rogue Landlords Could Face Prison Under Proposed Radical Reforms

Hello Readers,

I wanted to start this week’s article by highlighting how my PA Joanna is running a half marathon on Sunday for Evelina Children’s Hospital as a thank you for the spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis her daughter received.

It’s a fantastic cause and I wanted to ask you to consider making a small donation to support her. You can donate through JustGiving here. Thank you in advance!

Onto this week’s article. It’s certainly a turbulent time for property investors right now, however, with the increasing amount of legislation it’s certainly more work being a landlord today than it ever has been. Let’s face it, most landlords are certainly good and strive to ensure their properties are fit, habitable, and well maintained, but as usual, the majority are let down by the few.

I’ve been taking time over the past few days to digest some new proposed legislation that strengthens the requirements placed upon landlords, writing them into law. If this comes into force, it really will up the game when it comes to being a property investor.

The problem with the amount of legislation in place is that it’s far too easy for good landlords to make an honest mistake and come unstuck. I certainly think that upping the standard for private rental accommodation is a good thing, however wonder how much the Government realises the market is largely relying on smaller landlords to meet the demand.

If we look at the detail a little more, data released by Propertymark in June highlighted that the number of properties available to rent through letting agents in the month of March halved between 2019 and March 2022.

If we face up to the facts, it appears that landlords are choosing to sell up and exit the market under the wake of this increased legislation and what has become known as a ‘war on landlords’ over the past few years. This has contributed to a shortage of properties available to rent, higher rental prices and a bidding war breaking out in areas of high demand.

Yes, property remains to be an excellent investment, but this trend certainly is worrying. Ok, back to the proposed legislation!

The headlines of this proposed change are that:

  • Stricter standards will be brought in to eliminate unsafe and cold rental housing
  • A legal duty will be placed upon landlords to ensure minimum standards are met
  • Landlords could face six-month prison sentences if they let older homes that are unsafe and cold
  • A consultation that started on Friday 2nd September will run through to Friday 14th October

There are already penalties in place for landlords who do not meet requirements such as gas, fire and electrical safety and it looks like the direction of travel is to strengthen these. Last year I wrote about how regulation of letting agents and probably landlords is coming and this is another sign of that coming into fruition!

With Local Councils being the current enforcement body, the DULC has commented that this has created an environment where some landlords are not proactive in making sure their properties meet the required standards.

I partly wonder whether the strengthening of rules, throwing in a much larger stick into the mix is to compensate for the failings of Local Authorities to get a grip on enforcing the existing standards. It certainly ups the game!

Generally, good landlords will follow the tightened rules but there will always be a minority of rogue landlords who rent unsuitable, dangerous properties. Are good landlords being put at risk of criminalisation for the misdoings of a minority and failure of enforcement?

I’ll sum up by quoting one comment left on an article I read. Things really should go both ways:

“This law should go both ways. Currently, if a tenant wrecks the property, do they go to jail?”

“What is the point of making landlord repair improve properties, if the next tenants are going to trash them or not look after them?”

What do you think? Check out the website to read the full consultation and have your say.


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