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Lay off the rental sector, lettings expert warns politicians

A high profile letting agent has urged politicians to lay off the private rented sector and stop overloading it with confusion.

Lisa Simon, head of lettings at Carter Jonas, says that incoming rules including the mandatory installation of smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms, changes to Section 21 notices and the controversial Right to Rent scheme have left landlords with too much to absorb in too little time. 

Just last week the Residential Landlords Association claimed that there is a major drafting error in Government regulations for changes to Section 21 notices coming into force on October 1 as part of the Deregulation Act.

What’s more, despite being rejected in the House of Lords the week before, rules that require landlords to install carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors in rented properties will in fact be introduced on the same date

“Landlords thought they had a reprieve in meeting the deadline only to find this week that the legislation had gone through with exactly two weeks to the deadline so those who prevaricated now need to rush to avoid possible £5,000 fines,” says Simon.

“On top of this, Section 21 notice rules are supposed to have been clarified but many people are still unclear about them despite the October 1 implementation date.”

She also draws attention to the proposed national rollout of the Right to Rent scheme which will require landlords or their letting agents to check the immigration status of tenants.

After May’s general election and the pilot scheme in the West Midlands, Prime Minister David Cameron said the scheme would be introduced on a national basis this autumn.

“Well, autumn is here and no-one has any idea what is going on,” Simon adds. “We can’t carry on suffering rushed legislation, even where it is being pushed through with good intentions.” 

She says that due to the current migration crisis in Europe if immigration checks were introduced now it would be an ‘absolute nightmare’. 

The lettings expert argues that it must not go ahead until things are more settled, both in terms of population movement and discovering just how effective the trial period has been.

“I would plead with the political classes to leave the lettings sector alone until the New Year at least while the October 1 changes have a chance to bed down,” she says. 

  • Andrew McCausland

    Lisa speaks from a position of authority within the industry. Her comments express very well the concerns of others in the lettings sector. One would hope that the politicians will listen to the reasonable voices raised in opposition to the current plethora of changes and additional burdens placed on us.

    I am not a strident opponent of change, or have a political motivation to upset the current legislature. I support many of the proposed changes, but this is too much too quickly.

    We all need a strong, well legislated PRS. The current rate of change will not help achieve this. It simply overburdens the, particularly small, landlords who want to provide a great service for their tenants but who at the moment don't know what is going to happen next.

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