This month, CEO Richard Lambert tells us how the NLA has been influencing the debate around four key issues for landlords: the Tenant Fees Bill, enforcement of regulations by local authorities, client money protection insurance, and the consultation on carbon monoxide alarms.
- The issue: Tenant Fees Bill
The select committee involved in scrutinising the Tenant Fees Bill recommended that the proposed cap on security deposits be brought down from six weeks’ to five weeks’ rent; however, the government rejected that recommendation after listening to evidence presented by the NLA. So Parliament will be asked to limit the deposit a landlord in England can ask for to six weeks’ rent.
The NLA is happy that our case convinced the government. Our data showed that the average deposit taken is five weeks’ rent, but six weeks will allow landlords to offset any additional risk – for example, if tenants have pets or they are relying on benefits to pay the rent.
- The issue: client money protection insurance
The government has published the formal regulations that will make it mandatory for letting agents to have client money protection insurance. The NLA is particularly pleased that all the monies held by a letting agent now need to be insured. Most of the current client money protection policies have a limit on the total payout per incident, as well as a limit on the total amount covered by the policy. The regulations will come into force in April 2019.
The NLA had been concerned that, if there was a claim on a particular letting agent and they were holding more client funds than would be covered by a single incident, or potentially by the whole policy, then this would have a major impact on their landlords. Getting the government to recognise this was a big achievement for the NLA, although the new regulations will present challenges for the letting agent sector and, indeed, for the insurance industry, which will need to provide sufficient policies.
- The issue: enforcement of regulations by local authorities
As well as focusing on the Tenant Fees Bill, the select committee has also been looking at the private rented sector more broadly. One of its main recommendations was stronger and more consistent enforcement of the existing regulations by local authorities. The report specifically focused on rogue landlords, and how local authorities can be more effective in controlling and curbing them.
The NLA has been arguing that you can have as many regulations as you like but, if you don’t have a way of policing them effectively, they’re only words on paper. As well as a lack of resources, there is also a lack of financial incentives, as local authorities often can’t recover their costs. It’s good to see the select committee is now making the same argument and pushing the issue on.
- The issue: consultation on carbon monoxide alarms
The government has announced a review of the regulations around carbon monoxide alarms. It is already mandatory in the private rented sector to have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that has a solid-fuel burner. The government is now considering whether there should be a blanket requirement to install these alarms.
There has been a lot of campaigning around carbon monoxide safety, particularly driven by some of the families who have lost loved ones because of carbon monoxide poisoning. We have supported that campaign and long recommended that landlords install carbon monoxide alarms in their properties as a matter of best practice, as it gives reassurance to landlords and their tenants.
Do you need advice on any safety issues or regulations? The NLA’s Telephone Advice Line is staffed by our team of experienced landlords, who have a wealth of knowledge on landlord-related questions and issues. The Advice Line is free for members; associates can either upgrade to full membership or buy call credits to use the service. Find out more at landlords.org.uk/advice-line