York Council plans new controls on private letting agents

LandlordNew laws to better regulate the private rented sector will be considered by the Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods on 25 August.

The recommendation is to introduce, for the first time in the sector, fixed penalty notices for letting agents and landlords who are found to be deliberately flouting the law.

The new legislation requires that:

  • all letting and management agents must belong to a redress scheme to ensure any complaints by landlords or tenants are dealt with fairly. Nationally there are three approved and government-backed schemes available for managing or letting agencies to join with joining costs ranging from £170 to £350 per annum.
  • all letting agents must display details of all their fees and charges on their websites and in their offices for clarity and to enable landlords and tenants to shop around and promote transparency within the sector. In line with the Consumer Rights Act, all agents must display all charges as well, as well as the redress scheme they belong to.
  • all landlords must install smoke detectors on every storey of every rented property and fit carbon monoxide alarms in every room where there is a solid fuel-burning appliance. From 1 October 2015, all private sector landlords must ensure that there are working detectors at the start of every new tenancy. (Legislation around this for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) is already in existence.)

Being the enforcing authority, the council’s Executive Member will also be asked to agree how the new legislation will be implemented and set levels of fines that the council can charge for non-compliance. The recommendation is for a maximum £5,000 penalty for each instance of non-compliance and to delegate the power to the Housing Services Manager who will be given discretion to lower the fine in extenuating circumstances.

The council will be working with landlords to ensure that they understand the implications of the new laws and are invited to contact the Housing Standards and Adaptations Service for further advice by emailing housing.standards@york.gov.uk or by telephoning 01904 552300 or by regularly looking for updates on the council’s website www.york.gov.uk

The Decision Session will take place on Friday 25 August at West Offices from 6.30pm and is open to members of the public or is available to watch live online from: www.york.gov.uk/webcasts

To find out more about the report, or to attend, visit: http://modgov.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=875&MId=9040