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Are you a legal landlord?

Article Posted - 14th March 2019


Who knows more: NLA members or the general landlord population?

NLA Recognised Supplier recently conducted a questionnaire on a range of common topics in the private rented sector, pitting NLA members against the general landlord population.

With the huge range of information resources and our expert advice line on hand six days a week, it's no wonder that NLA members came out on top in 7/10 quiz questions. With an average rating of 65.74 per cent, NLA members comfortably beat their non-member counterpart efforts of just 39.15 per cent correct answers.

But with huge fines, Section 21 notices being invalidated and the possibility of prison sentences, we take a look at a few of the survey questions below and pose the question: can you afford not to be a member of the NLA?

Q) How often do you need to apply for a Gas Safety Certificate at your rental property?

Response: Only 42.3 per cent of non-members answered correctly, compared to an impressive 100 per cent of NLA members. The correct answer was ‘annually', and regardless of when it is due, the current certificate should always be served before the beginning of a new tenancy.

The repercussion: If you're a landlord, having an annual gas safety check is a legal requirement; failing to carry out a safety check every year can result in a fine or even a prison sentence.

Q) After the new HMO regulations came into force in October, what is the minimum size room you will be able to let to a single adult tenant?

Response: A dismal 13.5 per cent of non-members got this question right, compared to 56 per cent of NLA members. The answer was 6.51 square meters for one person aged over 10 years, and is in place to ensure any room used as sleeping accommodation is of an adequate size 

The repercussion:  Local authorities have discretion to grant a period not exceeding 18 months from the introduction of the regulations for landlords to rectify the situation. The new regulations also mandate that landlords of licensed HMOs comply with any relevant local authority waste scheme. 

Q) Under the new GDPR regulations, what document should you issue to your tenants to help ensure compliance?

Response: A healthy 86 per cent of NLA members knew the answer to this, whilst a worrying  0.4 per cent of non-members answered correctly. The answer was ‘privacy policy'.    

The repercussion: Failing to comply could result in hefty administrative fines. The maximum fine amount for infringements of administrative requirements is 10 million Euros (or equivalent in sterling) or per cent of the total annual worldwide turnover in the preceding financial year, whichever is higher. The size of the fine will be decided based on the severity of the breach.  

Q) Issuing Prescribed Information when you take a deposit is a vital step. But who needs to receive it?

Response: The correct answer is ‘anyone who included a financial contribution towards the deposit', and was known by 38.2 per cent of NLA members and just 5.8 per cent of non-members. 

The repercussion: Serving prescribed information is a legal requirement. Not following the rules means the deposit isn't properly protected, which means you can be required to pay it back within 14 days and can lead to large fines.

Q) What are the legal smoke alarm requirements for a rental property?

Response: 54 per cent of members answered with the correct answer ‘one on every storey', with just 29.1 per cent of non-members knowing the answer. 

The repercussion: Fines of up to £5,000 can be given to private landlords who don't comply with certain smoke alarm legislations.

Q) In which situation might you use a Deed of Surrender?

Response: A respectable 84 per cent of NLA members answered this one correctly, but were bumped off first place by 95 per cent of non-members giving the right answer of ‘allowing your tenant to exit a tenancy agreement early'. Landlords must ensure there is mutual consent before the tenancy is terminated.

The repercussion: If you don't receive a Deed of Surrender, you legally have not ended the tenancy – unless the tenant has handed you back the keys – and the tenant could return and claim occupancy. You could be at risk of undertaking an illegal eviction if you are not certain the tenant has surrendered the tenancy.

Q) How much notice do you have to give your tenant before you enter the property for a routine check?

Response: A disconcerting 9.5 per cent of non-members answered correctly, compared to a significant 94 per cent of members answered correctly. The answer was of course '24 hours'.

The fall back: If landlords do not allocate 24 hours to tenants, they can be prosecuted for harassment under the Housing Act 1988.

Q) If you successfully apply for a MEES exemption, how long is it valid for?

Response: A below par 45 per cent of members answered correctly, compared to 91.9 per cent of non-members.  The answer was ‘varies'. As of April 2018 the government introduced a new set of regulations with the aim of improving sustainable development. The EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) of a property needs to have a minimum rating of E, otherwise tenancies cannot be renewed or granted in England and Wales. From April 2020, existing tenancies will also need to meet this standard. We've come up with some guidance on MEES and circulated it to members to ensure everyone is up to speed on the latest regulations!

The repercussion: If landlords do not meet the minimum rating, they could face a public penalty of £5,000.

The NLA is dedicated in providing its members with the most up-to-date, correct and useful information. Not only do we offer members an extensive range of free information by the way of our Online Library, UK Landlord magazine, monthly newsletter and expert on-hand Telephone Advice Line, we also have landlord development courses for those who are interested in developing their landlord skills further.

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