How to avoid becoming an accidental rogue landlord

Thu 07 Jun 2018

We work with some fantastic landlords, who are proud of their properties and take care of their tenants. Unfortunately, not all landlords are so diligent, and horror stories about rogue landlords always seem to be in the news.

The government is addressing these few ‘bad apples’ with a number of measures, including giving new powers to local authorities, who, under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 can now issue higher fines of up to £30,000 and encouraging local authorities to share data on rogue landlords and agents. In London the Mayor has recently launched a new Rogue Landlord Database which covers agents too and is open to the public.

A rogue landlord is typically someone who is considered to deliberately flout the law by letting unsafe or illegal property, often to vulnerable tenants. But with more than 400 letting rules and regulations for landlords (or letting agents) to abide by, coupled with ever-changing laws relating to tenant deposits, gas safety, electrics, and local licensing laws, it can be very easy to end up being an ‘accidental rogue landlord’.

Oxford City Council is clamping down on rogue landlords and between April 2017, when the new powers were introduced, and December last year, it had already collected more than £31,000 in fines for penalties including fire safety issues and house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence breaches.

Meanwhile, in Greater Manchester, a property with vermin, fire and gas safety problems and HMO licence breaches resulted in a fine of several thousand pounds for a landlord in Bury.   

Norwich City Council issued a civil penalty of £6,000 was issued to a landlord who converted a garage into a home with no windows or fire escape, while another landlord received a suspended prison sentence and was ordered to pay more than £3,000 for renting out a “squalid death trap” in Gloucester. According to Gloucestershire Live, the bedsit block had no fire doors, alarms or smoke alarms and some rooms had no electric lights.

No landlord wants to be hit with a fine – which as well as the financial cost can harm your reputation – so it’s increasingly important to make sure your property is being let legally and safely.  

What do you need to do to remain compliant when the rules are complex and ever-changing?
The easy solution is to use our full management service. This is backed up by our in-house Legal & Compliance team who ensure we are always up to date with lettings legals, and ARLA-trained staff who can spot any issues and advise on the best way to get them resolved. 

Upkeep is taken care of by our local vetted contractors, who ensure your property is well maintained so it is safe for your tenants.

We’re expecting more rules to be announced by the government during the year, so do stay alert for any changes which will affect your rental property. With the complexity of lettings legal, it is no longer advisable for landlords to go it alone; the modern landlord really needs to join a local council landlord accreditation scheme as a minimum if available and/or use the full management services of an ARLA- regulated agent such as ourselves.  

Whether we manage the let for you, or you have opted our Tenant Find or Rent Collection Service, we’re always happy to advise you and discuss any concerns you may have about your property. Do get in touch with your local Leaders branch for advice about letting rules and regulations, or anything else you may need.