September round up of private rented sector
September, a traditionally busy time of year as students move into new accommodation for the academic year, has also been another busy month for the private rented sector. Finally guidance has been published on how agents should include tenant fees in their property advertisements; its been revealed that the Government may be set to make a u-turn on making landlords responsible for immigration checks on their tenants, and new legislation is going through Parliament to enable landlords to evict tenants on grounds of anti-social behaviour.
Letting Agent Fee’s
At last the Committee of Advertising Practice has published its guidance to letting agents on how they should include tenants’ fees in their property advertisements, giving agent’s until November 1 to comply with the new CAP guidelines.
The advice follows a ruling in March by the Advertising Standards Authority that a rental listing on Rightmove, placed by Your Move, broke the rules and was banned.
The ruling affects all letting agents and all non-optional fees that an agent might charge, including admin, referencing, application fees, fees for drawing up agreements, and inventory fees.
The CAP guidelines says that adverts should make clear whether charges are per tenant or per property.
However, it acknowledges that different media have different requirements for space.
If advertisers are not limited for space, for example on their website, in leaflets and press adverts, they should state the fees that apply immediately below or close to the asking rent.
Further information about the fees and how they are calculated can either be provided through a link or via a pop-up.
Alternatively, a prominent statement could be provided at the top of the web page or in a footnote in press adverts or leaflets.
Government to U-turn on Immigration Checks?
Back in May, during the Queen’s Speech, it was proposed that landlords would be made responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants which at the time raised many questions, and even more surprising was the revelation that only three years ago the Government was offered an immigrants’ checking service which would have cost taxpayers nothing, but turned the offer down. Concerns over a landlord’s ability to check the immigrant status of tenants or face a fine were somewhat relieved by the announcement in the same month by housing minister Mark Prisk that “The immigration status of tenants will only have to be checked under a ‘light touch’ regime”.
Nonetheless since then the proposal has been slammed by not only Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather, but also the Residential Landlords Association who carried out a poll that revealed four-fifths of landlords oppose the government’s plans to compel them to carry out immigration checks on tenants, and have even gone on to claim that the proposal ‘could worsen’ the relationship between landlords and agents.
Now its been claimed that the Government could be set to make a u-turn on plans to make landlords check the immigration status of tenants as the plans are in chaos and will have to be dramatically scaled back.
The report says that both Tory and Lib Dem ministers are warning that the proposal risks criminalising many small landlords, and that they should not be treated as an extension of the Border Agency.
A Home Office source confirmed that the legislation was likely to be reined in, and predicted that it would be limited to small-scale pilot schemes before being quietly abandoned.
Anti-Social Behaviour Legislation change to help landlords evict bad tenants
New Government legislation preventing Anti-Social Behaviour is going through Parliament this year and the changes in the law could make a huge difference to UK private rental sector (PRS) landlords who have previously had difficulties evicting tenants on the grounds of anti-social behaviour.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill 2013/14 will mean that UK PRS landlords can evict a tenant on the grounds of anti-social behaviour (ASB), even if the offence was not committed near the landlord’s rental property, and the courts will have to grant possession.
At present, the only option currently available to landlords wanting to evict an anti-social tenant is to serve a Section 21 notice and simply wait 2 months.