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Half of landlords unprepared for ‘right to rent’, says Urban.co.uk survey

Posted 20 January 2016 by Keith Osborne

A new survey of 5,000 landlords finds many unprepared for imminent new legislation, leaving them prone to receiving serious fines...

A new survey of 5,000 landlords by online agent Urban.co.uk has found that half (50%) of UK landlords are not prepared for new 'right to rent' legislation, which comes into force on 1 February 2016. 

One-fifth (20%) of those questioned in the Landlord Knowledge Survey Report believed that they had until April 2017 to get ready for the changes and 3% believed they had until 2018 to prepare.

Already introduced in the West Midlands, the new legislation will be in place nationally next month and require all landlords and agents in England to check a tenant’s immigration status (‘right to rent’) in the UK. Landlords failing to do so could find themselves with a potential fine of £3,000.

Among the other findings in the report are that only 10% of landlords provide the correct information to their tenants at the start of a lease; most landlords (90% of those surveyed) were unable to identify the characteristics of a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO); and 16% were failing to provide a valid contact address on tenancy agreements, risking a substantial fine.

Adam Male, co-founder of Urban.co.uk, says: “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.

“At Urban.co.uk, we have a duty of care to ensure all landlords know their responsibilities and that new changes and legislation are communicated clearly to protect both themselves and the tenants who rely on the private rental market. This report sets to find out where the gaps are and how we can look to provide help and support where it’s needed most.”

The survey did reveal a wealth of knowledge by many landlords in some areas. Most were abreast of most of the fundamental duties of a buy-to-let landlord: 77% were aware of the need for an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC); 95% knew their gas safety responsibilities; and 76% knew the need for a smoke alarm on every floor.

Male adds: “It’s 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.

“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.”

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