The past few years have been tough ones for landlords and agents – so many legal changes and so little time to study them!

We have had changes to the deposit rules, a new section 21 regime, new ‘transparency’ rules for agents’ fees, new rules about smoke and CO alarms and the introduction of right to rent checks

Most of these are just for English landlords and agents. Even more dramatic changes are planned in Wales which will be brought in under the Renting (Wales) Act 2016 probably next year.

So what changes are on the agenda for 2017 in England?

First, there are the changes which have not yet come into force under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. There are:

The new abandonment procedure.

This is a new procedure to allow landlords to recover abandoned property without having to go to court. Sounds good, but there are long notice periods so some landlords may prefer to go to court anyway!

Regulations for dealing with rogue landlords.

I described these in my previous post. We don’t know the details yet – but no doubt posts will appear here when more information is available.

New House in Multiple Occupation licensing rules.

The government put out a consultation last year and it is expected that at some time this year, new more onerous, licensing rules will come into force. These will make licensing mandatory for two and probably also one story properties, bringing far more properties into scope. So, if you let to sharers you need to watch out for this.

The ban on letting agent fees to tenants.

This was a surprise announcement from the Chancellor in his Autumn statement. How this actually works out will depend on the inevitable consultation but it sounds as if they are serious about it and new rules are expected to come into force in 2018.

So if your firm charges fees to tenants you may want to consider restructuring your fee system in advance of the change.

Those are the main changes that I am aware of the PRS, although there are other housing related bills going through Parliament at the moment.

What you need to do

You need to be sure that you and your firm are ready for these changes so you don’t get caught out. So you need to consider the following:

  • Subscribe to a suitable newsletter, or if you are a member of a landlords or agents body make sure you read their mailings. My Landlord Law Blog has posts daily on various news and other legal items.
  • Consider booking a place on the forthcoming Landlord Law Conference on 19 May. This conference, sponsored by TDS, will have 10 legal talks during the day (one from TDS’s Director of Dispute Resolution, Mike Morgan on deposit adjudications) and carries 5 hours CPD.
  • Finally, Ben Beadle and I so enjoyed the two ‘surgery’ webinars we did last year that we are doing another one on 16 Feb. You can book your place here.

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a specialist landlord & tenant lawyer 

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