The National Residential Landlords Association leaders had a meeting at Downing Street recently with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's team. Among various matters discussed, rental reforms were right on top of the issues placed before the PMs team by the National Residential Landlords Association's CEO Ben Beadle and Policy Director Chris Norris. This focus aligns with the recent shift in tone from Housing Secretary Michael Gove, which has seen a less hostile stance towards landlords.
Beadles viewpoint was that their efforts to advance renters reform have been encouraged by the more amicable approach taken by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) ministers towards landlords. However, the decision of the other government departments not to follow the same has created serious concerns in their minds.
One key area of concern is related to recent announcements concerning fines under the Right to Rent policy. These announcements may have inadvertently conveyed the message that landlords are solely responsible for individuals living in the country illegally. In addition, statements regarding child-minding in rental properties have called upon landlords to be 'open-minded'. It doesn't consider the numerous obstacles, such as non-negotiable mortgage and insurance conditions.
Landlords should conduct a right to rent check to establish whether a tenant or lodger can legally rent a residential property in England. All tenants over 18 occupying the property must be checked whether or not they are named on the tenancy agreement and even if there is no written tenancy agreement. For more information, see the Home Office guidance on right to rent checks. Businesses should ensure that everyone responsible for letting to a tenant or employing a new employee is thoroughly aware of the checks that need to be carried out.
New fines will come into force at the beginning of 2024 and will be as follows:
These were announced by Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick who said that the government was taking action to crack down on illegal immigration. He said the new fines for breaching the right to rent act conditions would send a clear message to landlords and employers that they would be held accountable for breaking the law.
The new rules are part of the governments continued focus on reducing illegal immigration, with Jenrick saying: Unscrupulous landlords and employers who allow illegal working and renting enable the business model of the evil people smugglers to continue. There is no excuse for not conducting the appropriate checks. The government says the new fines are necessary to deter landlords and employers from renting to or employing illegal immigrants. It argues that the current fines are not high enough and are not a sufficient deterrent.
The government has said enforcement activity against illegal immigration is at its highest level since 2019 and 50% higher than last year. Home Office data states that 5,000 civil penalties have been issued to employers since 2018, totalling 88.4m. More than 320 civil penalties have been issued to landlords in the same period, with total penalties amounting to 215,500.
The NRLA strives to ensure that the government's Private Rented Sector (PRS) reforms get the go-ahead and the trust of responsible landlords. Beadle also mentioned that the apprehension within the sector may be intensified by tall statements originating from other government departments. It only helps reinforce the opinion that landlords are being used as scapegoats for challenging policy issues.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) in the UK is a membership organization that represents the interests of landlords. The NRLA aims to provide support, guidance, and resources to private residential landlords across the country. It has the following key objectives:
1. Representation: The NRLA aims to act as a collective voice for landlords in the UK, representing their interests and concerns to government bodies, policymakers, and other relevant stakeholders. They work to ensure that the views of landlords are taken into account when formulating legislation and regulations affecting the private rented sector.
2. Professionalism and Standards: The NRLA encourages landlords to maintain high standards and professionalism in their dealings with tenants. They provide resources and guidance to help landlords understand their legal obligations and responsibilities, including aspects such as tenancy agreements, property maintenance, and health and safety standards.
3. Education and Support: The NRLA seeks to educate and inform landlords about the latest developments in the rental sector, including changes in legislation, regulations, and best practices. They offer training courses, workshops, and access to resources to help landlords improve their knowledge and skills in property management.
4. Networking and Community: The NRLA provides opportunities for landlords to network and connect with each other. They organize events, meetings, and conferences where landlords can share experiences, exchange ideas, and learn from one another.
The NRLA has been representing its members at the highest levels to ensure that the changes introduced in Renters Reform encourage equality for landlords and tenants. The meeting also addressed other crucial topics, such as court reform to expedite possession cases in the post-Section 21 era and the need for selective licensing after introducing a property portal outlined in the Renters Reform Bill. The specific concerns raised by the NRLA were regarding recent government announcements about fines under the Right to Rent policy their view being that these announcements may wrongly attribute sole responsibility to landlords for individuals living in the country illegally.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
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