More work needed to educate landlords and create safer rented homes for all

Thursday, July 7th, 2016 -

Landlords are such a diverse group of people that it’s almost impossible to reach them to communicate rules and regulations, according to a new report.

Contrary to the popular misconception that landlords are ‘greedy’ entrepreneurs who ‘just sit back and watch the money roll in’, the research found that many landlords are over 55s letting out their own former home and some are not even looking for financial gain; just buying property to rent to friends or family to help them out.

The report, ‘Who are the individual landlords providing private rented accommodation?’ (read here) was written by industry expert Kate Faulkner, of Designs on Property, with the support of the TDS Charitable Foundation, which works to advance education about housing rights and obligations.

It found that landlords are as individual and varied as the homes they rent out, with teachers, doctors, web developers, librarians, army officers and retirees among the landlords completing the survey. Up to 40% of them fall into the ‘accidental landlords’ category, letting out a property that was not bought for that purpose.

But while these landlords may try to do the right thing for their tenants, many of them are confused about the ever-changing rules and regulations. And some are worryingly uninformed; the results showed that one in five landlords does no research at all before letting out a property.

This means, says Kate Faulkner, everyone involved in the PRS urgently needs to work more closely together to educate landlords about creating safer rented housing for everyone.

Kate, who also runs a free consumer advice website, said:

There are currently 145 lettings rules and regulations on letting. Not only do they seem to be changing all the time but they can vary from one local authority to another. It’s no wonder landlords are confused, and struggle to keep up with the law, particularly if they are letting out property in another part of the country to where they live.

Kate is calling for those in the PRS such as lenders, legal companies, letting agents, tenant organisations and local authorities as well as government to collaborate to give landlords the tools and incentives they need to let property safely and legally.

We would like to see the PRS working together to promote trusted and consistent sources of information about preparing a property to let legally, about changes in the law, property maintenance and, of course, where to turn for independent, qualified advice.

However, because landlords are such a diverse group of people, and with many self-managing their properties, it makes it extremely difficult to communicate with them, unless they actively seek out information for themselves.

Even if they do their own research about rules and regulations, it can be still be confusing and the report suggests experienced landlords struggle too. This is why they need a clear source of information they can turn to.

In addition, to encourage best practice, we would also like to see the government introduce incentives for landlords to stay within the law, such as tax breaks or special deals which reward those that are renting legally and safely.

In summary the report concluded:

  • Landlords are mostly over 55 years old and most only have one property;
  • Over 55s are more likely to self-manage their property than use an agent;
  • Many rent out a property they used to live in;
  • The majority of landlords are not full time and either run a business or have another job;
  • They invest for a variety of reasons, not all being financial gain – e.g. to help out family and friends;
  • Nearly 40% of landlords are not members of any landlord association or group;

Regulations are more likely to be followed if they are clear, concise and consistently communicated.

London Property Licensing fully concur with Kate Faulkner’s findings that many landlords are confused by housing regulation and there is a lack of clear and consistent advice. That’s why we set up this website to provide simple, impartial and expert advice and help explain the complexities of property licensing and other housing regulations. We like to think of ourselves as a trusted source of information!

But longer term, if our service is to continue, we need to attract more advertising and sponsorship from market leading businesses in the private rented sector. After all, our award winning website is completely free of charge!