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Southern Landlords Association Review of the Year

Southern Landlords Association Review of the Year

We were going to write a review of the year, but the Southern Landlords Association (SLA) did such a good job with theirs we have decided to include it here in its entirety:

What a year we landlords have had; constant amendments to rules and regulations have made it difficult for all to keep up:

The end of last year saw us getting to grips with amendments made about 5 years ago, but badly announced that resulted in all rental property having to carry out risk analysis for Legionnaires; it also saw the intended roll-out of Universal Credit badly delayed from October of last year to October of this - in fact this October saw yet another 'launch' announcement.

We also saw Letting and Management Agents started to become controlled, with the introduction of the Property Redress Scheme, a scheme generally believed to have little teeth.  Baroness Hayter has been pushing for this for some time, but also wants Agents to belong to some type of client money protection scheme, and is trying to bring this in through the Lords.  Additionally Agents were covered by the new Consumer Contract regulation that came out this year - note however that it does not cover AST's.

2013 saw many Councils making changes, carried over into 2014.  The main one was the increasing use of Licensing, and the reduction of planning agreement for HMO's, but additionally there were many changes brought in that affected Council Tax, often making the landlord more exposed than they were before.  Our advice as always to ensure you know what the Council covering your rental property proposes, and if it is too late for any consultation to ensure you follow the rules, else you might get a fine, and even possibly a criminal record - see below for details of the Hastings meeting.

The Government continued with its theme of getting us to do their jobs for them by introducing the Immigration Act, whereby landlords will have to check that their intended tenants; and existing ones are legally allowed to be in the country.  This is currently being trialled in the Nottingham area, and is anticipated will cover  the whole country before the election in May.

And of course the year wouldn't be complete without yet another attempt to rectify the deeply flawed Tenancy Deposit Protection legislation.  To cut a long story short, a court case resulted in any deposit having to be re-protected at the end of a fixed term AST, even if it is allowed to go Periodic.  The Government are to reverse this via the De-Regulation Bill still making its weary way through Parliament.  And to ensure Deposits had the last word, a court case at the beginning of December resulted in all tenancies having to be protected.

But let's end on a positive note.  Two court cases actually went the landlords' way this year.  Firstly the rules regarding a Section 21 were simplified, in that a Judge ruled that if an AST had ever been a Fixed Term one, then the simpler Fixed Term S21 could always be used.  This was a massive sigh of relief for those many landlords who regularly get the Periodic S21 wrong.  Then in another case some HMO's were taken out of mandatory licensing when the definition of a storey was established - meaning that (for example) a two storey maisonette over another property was no longer considered to be 3 or more stories, and therefore not subject to mandatory licensing (if they also had 5 (or more) tenants).

Are we brave enough to guess what 2015 holds for us - not likely!  The only thing we can predict is that the future is un-predictable.  We strongly urge you to look at all the manifesto's when they come out in a few months' time, and vote accordingly. All the parties have residential property in their sights, especially rental.  The future is likely to be turbulent.

The SLA wishes you a restful Christmas, with no call-outs, and a successful New Year.

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