Dear Barry

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If you’re a private landlord or letting agent reading this post, we’re pretty sure you’ll agree when we say that being a private landlord or letting agent is a lot more difficult than those not involved in property, on a professional level, might ever believe!

Far from being an easy way of making money, owning or managing a property requires a very broad set of skills, including understanding tenant relationships, understanding tenancies and the law (and how to stay on the right side of it), and knowing the rights and wrongs of property and tenancy management.

But of course, given that housing is a fundamental area of social policy for government, as well as a profession for many private individuals, it’s a sector that is constantly under review with policy makers and legislators, whose role is to ensure it is affordable, sustainable and well managed, offering security to landlords and tenants alike.

A number of key legislative changes have already been enacted over the course of the past decade, in respect of the private rented sector (PRS). These include the following:

The Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 (PTO), sets out the law on the current regulation of the private rented sector, and provides councils with powers to enforce legislation. Under this legislation, the landlord must:

- fulfil tenancy management duties
- comply with notice to quit periods
- provide tenants with a rent book, free of charge
- ensure tenants are free from harassment and illegal eviction

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) was added to the PTO in 2011. The purpose of this was to ensure that a tenant’s deposit could be safeguarded so that any deposit related disputes between landlord and tenant could be dealt with independently.

The Landlord Registration Scheme (LRS) was introduced in 2014 in order to professionalise the sector. Through this system, a landlord must pay a £70 fee for a 3 year registration.

Additional new proposals for further legislative change 

As government seeks to further professionalise the sector, and make it better for all concerned, a number of additional proposals have been put forward in a recent consultation document published by DfC. The following are just some of the many proposals that have been put forward:

  • Introduce legislation to stipulate that rents can only be increased once in any 12 month period
  • Amend the notice to quit period from 4 weeks to 2 months, for tenancies lasting longer than 12 months
  • Bring forward legislation to ensure that all private tenants are issued with a written agreement, containing mandatory terms, regardless of type or length of tenancy
  • Introduce a regulatory framework for all letting agents, including bringing forward legislation to ban letting fees
  • Develop a tenant information pack, which a landlord must provide to the tenant at the commencement of the tenancy
  • Amend legislation so that all unfit properties built before 1956 are subject to rent control

If you would like to learn more about the extensive full list of legislative changes proposed for the Private Rented Sector, book a place on one of the upcoming CIH Learning 2 Let training courses, which will cover everything you need to know about your obligations as a landlord or letting agent.

Our thanks to Alan Shanley of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Northern Ireland for our first guest blog.