New controls and regulations for the private rental sector are expected to be introduced, which could mean more of a landlord’s time is spent dealing with bureaucracy rather than the day-to-day running of the business. More details of exactly what is in store is expected to be revealed during the Budget on November 22. However, it is likely to include some sort of ombudsman scheme.
At the moment, landlords do not have to sign up to ombudsman schemes, although letting agents do. The new requirement would see landlords, as well as agents, having to be part of an official redress organisation. This should make it quicker to resolve any disputes with tenants, because issues can be dealt with by the ombudsman rather than lengthy legal disputes which could end up in court. These redress schemes often offer resolutions to conflicts which are legally binding. Members typically have to adhere to a code of conduct, as well.
At present, there are organisations which landlords can join such as the Housing Ombudsman Service, although most of its members are social landlords such as housing associations, or The Property Ombudsman, which oversees complaints by landlords or tenants against sales and letting agents. More than 65,000 landlords are already members of the National Landlords Association, which does have a code of practice for landlords and can resolve tenants’ disputes. So there are already measures that tenants can take if they have a complaint to make against their landlord or a letting agent. But, once again, it seems the government is targeting legitimate landlords. Professional landlords will already want to have a good relationship with tenants, because it means they are more likely to stay in the property and look after it. It is more profitable for landlords to keep good tenants rather than keep spending on advertising for new tenants or paying the expenses on an empty property. Rogue landlords will just ignore the new requirement, just as they do not pay any attention to existing laws and regulations. However, if the new ombudsman schemes speeds up disputes, then it has to be a good thing for both landlords and their tenants.
Other changes which could be announced in the Autumn Budget are new incentives for landlords offering tenancies of at least 12 months and a new housing court that could save time and money in dealing with disputes.
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