Legal breaches by Landlords on the increase

A recent study involving landlords in the Yorkshire area which was carried out by the Yorkshire based Letting Agent Linley and Simpson has shown a worrying increase in complaints being made against landlords due to breaches of the law. The level of complaints against landlords in this area has risen to five times higher when

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A recent study involving landlords in the Yorkshire area which was carried out by the Yorkshire based Letting Agent Linley and Simpson has shown a worrying increase in complaints being made against landlords due to breaches of the law.

The level of complaints against landlords in this area has risen to five times higher when compared to the number of complaints made against landlords ten years ago and have resulted in some Yorkshire landlords being ordered to pay £20,000 or more after being convicted of committing breaches which could, potentially, have put their tenants’ lives in danger.

Linley and Simpson Letting Agents used freedom of information requests to ask councils in Harrogate, York, Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield for data on both the nature and number of prosecutions brought against landlords over the past ten years as well as requesting figures on how many of those prosecutions were brought against Letting Agents and how many against private landlords.

Will Linley, director of Linley and Simpson Letting Agents, stated that the research carried out shows that the rising demand over the past ten years for rental accommodation is closely matched by the rise in complaints and prosecutions brought against landlords and that the trend is partly down to the increase in red tape and legislation associated with being a landlord.

Mr. Linley also stated that, unless a landlord has a good knowledge of every aspect required in letting a property correctly to avoid exposure to legal proceedings, then it bodes in the landlord’s favour to employ a fully accredited, professional Letting Agent to handle the letting of the property.

When renting property both landlords and tenants should ensure that the agent belongs to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA).

Mr. Linley is also advising that all Letting Agents sign up to the SAFEagent Client Money Protection Scheme. This relatively new scheme protects both the tenant and the landlord by safeguarding any monies deposited with the Letting Agent in the form of either rent or a rental deposit should that agent mismanage the funds or go bust.

Whilst membership for the SAFEagent scheme is purely on a voluntary basis the government fully support the scheme and hope that further promotion will encourage more agents to do the right thing and sign up.

By visiting the SAFEagent website – www.safeagents.co.uk – both tenants and landlords will be able to find all the UK Letting Agents who are registered with the scheme.

Below we take a look at some of the further findings uncovered in Linley and Simpson’s recent study:

  • One of the most common breaches in the law which led to legal action being taken against landlords was due to the landlord failing to license Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) such as shared student accommodation.

Further common breaches leading to prosecution included:

  • Not measuring up to stringent health and safety regulations
  • The unlawful eviction of tenants
  • Harassment of tenants
  • The mismanagement of the tenant’s deposits

Other findings showed that:

  • The area with the most prosecutions mounted against landlords was Leeds and in the past two years over 135 prosecutions took place with three of those against Letting Agents and the other 132 against private landlords.
  • In Bradford a total of 19 prosecutions have taken place over the past two years with one of those against a Letting Agent and the other 18 against private landlords.
  • The study also shows that it is Bradford that has seen the biggest increase in complaints made against landlords and this dramatic rise went from 263 complaints in 2000 to over 1,313 in 2010. These complaints consisted of a total of 183 against Letting Agents and an incredible 1,130 against private landlords.
  • Some of the largest fines experienced by landlords included over £20,000 for a case brought against a landlord by Bradford District Council, £17,000 for a case brought about by Leeds City Council concerning breaches regarding HMOs and £10,000+ for a case brought against a landlord by York Council.

 

Matthew Price – litigation solicitor at Darlingtons Solicitors

If you are a landlord concerned about your legal obligations or you already have a landlord & tenant issue or dispute, contact me. I can help.

Disputes • Property law

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