Half of landlords in England unaware of start date for right to rent rules change

Half of UK landlords are not prepared for the Right to Rent legislation set to come into force on 01 February with some thinking they had another two years to wait.

Indeed some 20% believed that they had until April 2017 to prepare for the changes, while 3% believed they had until 2018 to get ready, the research from online estate agent Urban shows.

The new legislation, already implemented in the West Midlands, will soon require all landlords and agents in England to check a tenant’s immigration status or ‘right to rent’ in the UK.

A failure to prepare could leave landlords at serious financial risk, with potential fines of £3,000 if they do not comply.

The survey report also found that only 10% of landlords provide the correct information to tenants at the start of a lease and 90% were unable to identify the characteristics of a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO).

Some 16% were putting themselves at serious financial risk by failing to provide a valid contact address on tenancy agreements; an action which could see contracts being deemed as null and void.

One reason to explain the lack of industry knowledge could be due to the rise in accidental landlords who rent property due to circumstance beyond their control such as having inherited property, according to the firm.

‘There has been an influx of new legislation relating to the rental market made in recent years and we know that UK landlords are struggling to keep on top of these changes. Despite knowing many of the basics, many find it difficult to navigate the minefield of changing renting rights and wrongs and this is particularly so for accidental landlords,’ said Adam Male, Urban cofounder.

However, despite a lack of understanding in some areas, reassuringly, the majority of landlords were abreast of most other rental fundamentals. For instance, 77% were aware of the need for an up to date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and 95% of landlords correctly identified their gas safety responsibilities, 76% also knew the need for a smoke alarm on every floor and 7% even put one in every room.

The Landlord Knowledge League Table, a map which ranks the most knowledgeable regions in the UK according to the survey results, found that the most knowledgeable landlords let property in Southampton, while those in Newcastle-under-Lyme were unaware of many key landlord responsibilities.

‘It is great to hear that knowledge about things such as gas safety is a widely understood and implemented landlord legislation, however, there is still a long way to go in educating landlords about the varying aspects of renting,’ said Male.

‘New regulations such as the Right to Rent have the potential to stop back door lettings and create a better environment for all, however, this will only happen if the scheme is communicated to landlords properly. We as an organisation want to do our bit to clean up the industry and help landlords protect themselves from significant financial risk,’ he added.