Keep up to date with letting legislation

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LOCAL landlords are being warned to ensure they are keeping up to date with letting legislation, writes Rob Smy, director of Fenland Estates, ARLA licensed specialist residential lettings agency with offices in Wisbech and Long Sutton.

One often missed piece of regulation is that surrounding the protection of tenants deposits which came into force in April 2007.

If a landlord fails to protect any deposit taken in the prescribed manner there are a number of implications.

Significantly, they can be ordered by court to pay a fine of three times the deposit to the tenant. However, in recent years the powers of the courts to impose these penalties have been eroded due to a number of high profile judgements which has resulted in some landlords paying little regard to the legislation.

The new Localism Act includes measures to overcome previous Court of Appeal decisions and landlords are warned to ensure they are fully compliant with the regulations.

If the landlord fails to protect the deposit or to send the statutory information within 30 days the court must now award compensation of between one and three times the amount of the deposit. Default will also make section 21 Notices for possession invalid as previously.

Another area surrounding deposits is the failure of many landlords to agree a detailed property inventory with their tenants. In the event of any dispute this is the only evidence the landlord has of any damages. With staff trained to APIP (Association of Professional Inventory Providers) standard, Fenland Estates are able to offer local landlords an in-house inventory completion service which can be relied on in the event of a dispute.

Fenland Estates is a specialist residential letting agent which has been accredited Licensed Agent status with ARLA, the Association of Residential Letting Agents. As such they are required to keep abreast of all current lettings legislation.

Anyone thinking of letting is advised to seek the specialist advice of a licensed ARLA agent. A list of local licensed agents can be found via www.arla.co.uk.

For those landlords who prefer to manage their own tenancies rather than use the management services of a letting agent, Fenland Estates are happy to give private landlords an individual advice service tailored to their specific needs. Landlords wishing to discuss this service further can contact Fenland Estates on 01945-466642 or 01406-363006