8 compliance updates you and your landlords need to know

18 September 2023

Since its summer recess, the government has been busy updating guidance and releasing its plans for future legislation that affects lettings compliance. Here's an overview.

Since the government came back from its summer recess, there's been a flurry of news and updates on legislation in different areas of the lettings market. So, here's a bitesize update on the latest in lettings compliance for your agency and landlords. 

New damp and mould guidance for landlords

After promising change after the death of toddler Awaab Ishak in social housing due to damp and mould, the government has released new guidance for landlords.

This coincides with an update around the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, which is expected to feed into the Decent Homes Standard review.  

Read our overview of the new damp and mould guidance.

Updated "How to rent" guide expected next month

The government only updated its How to rent guide for tenants in March of this year, with new information about carbon monoxide rules.

However, next month, a second update is expected with more information for tenants about the legal advice it can access about housing and possessions.

Read more about why this document is so important in our guide.

Licenses on short-term lets in Scotland required from 1 October 2023

From 1 October 2023, all hosts operating a short-term let property in Scotland will need to apply for a licence on each property that they manage from their local council.

An application could take up to 12 months to process, and the councils would decide on how long it could last for its area.

Read more about the requirements in our guide. 

Consumer rights of tenants to be investigated

From clarity over fees for deposit alternatives to guarantee clauses that exclude some tenants and unlawful discrimination, the Competition and Markets Authority will be investigating five areas of concern around the rights of tenants.

This may lead to enforcement action in the future, as well as better guidance around the topics raised.

Read more about initial review of tenant consumer rights.

A system of long-term rent controls in Scotland?

The temporary rent cap in Scotland is expected to end in March 2024 - but the government has now committed to bringing in a "System of long-term rent controls" instead.

What this means in practice is yet to be defined, although the draft strategy "A New Deal for Tenants" does outline some of the approaches that the government may choose to take.

Agents in England and Wales will also need to keep an eye on how this develops, knowing that Scottish housing policy is often a precursor to what's considered in other nations.

Read more about what this could mean in our blog.

No update on the Renters (Reform) Bill in England

Despite this activity, at time of writing the Renters (Reform) Bill is still awaiting its second reading as it passes through Parliament.

Reports suggest scepticism around the likelihood of this being achieved before the King's Speech on 7 November, with another recess for party conferences towards the end of September.

If the Second Reading doesn't take place by then, the bill would have to be reintroduced to Parliament - which would only result in a short delay, but raises questions around what is taking the bill so long to reach the next stage.

Read more about the proposals for rental reform in our complete guide.

Free resources for Gas Safety Week

As it's gas safety week, Propertymark has released a new 2023 toolkit alongside the Gas Safe Register to help letting agents raise awareness around landlord responsibilities and tenant rights.

This includes factsheets, leaflets, and posters, among other resources.

Read more about gas safety in our blog.

Court solution for abandoned tenancies requested

Propertymark has pushed for the government to release better guidance and legislation to support landlords if their properties are abandoned by tenants. The association highlights that this could be a bottleneck when section 21 is abolished, as there is currently little clarity on how possession cases will be prioritised.

Tim Thomas, Propertymark's Policy and Campaigns Officer, highlights that it's more important than ever to "bring such homes back into circulation with urgency”.

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