Landlords and letting agents are often accused of working in an unregulated market – but their critics fail to realise more than 145 property laws tie their businesses in red tape.
Add to this special rules for taxing property rental profits and specific industry legislation letting agents must follow and the regulatory burden for buy to let businesses is huge.
Not only is keeping on top of all the rules and regulations time-consuming, but applying them to a portfolio of properties in different countries, cities or council areas is confusing.
In some places, where more than one local authority shares housing powers, shared houses in neighbouring streets face completely different sets of rules.
“It’s not just the laws which are different but the enforcement of those laws can be carried out by different organisations in England, Scotland and Wales,” said buy to let commentator Kate Faulkner, who has listed the property laws that landlords must follow for the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Foundation.
“The complexity of rules, regulations and their enforcement is clearly vast and can be different from one local authority to another, too. For the average landlord who works full time, let alone the letting agents and their respective trade bodies, it is difficult to ascertain who is responsible for enforcing each regulation and the penalties breaches would incur.”
She argues that a welter of laws to protect the rights of tenants seem to have little impact because a coordinated approach to enforcement is lacking.
“Without enforcement, all these regulations do is add to a landlord’s costs without benefitting tenants,” said Faulkner.
“To improve safety for tenants, existing rules should be reviewed to identify which are working and to find ways of raising awareness of them among landlords and letting agents.”