This year could be an interesting one for landlords if Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid makes good on some proposals he made towards the end of 2017.
Javid announced plans to set up a new housing ombudsman, one which would have a wider jurisdiction than existing bodies and, crucially, would cover all landlords.
At present landlords are not covered by redress schemes – although many local councils have set up licensing schemes. Given that such licensing schemes have been met with criticism by much of the landlord community – not least because of the cost of such an initiative – I would imagine there will be many property investors who are dismayed at the idea of yet more red tape and bureaucracy in the rental sector. However, I actually think an ombudsman that covers landlords could be beneficial. Let me explain.
The purpose of including landlords in this new redress scheme is, clearly, to protect tenants. At present it is thought that renters in private accommodation have nowhere to turn when they are having an issue with their landlord. Fair enough. But it works both ways. Those of you who have buy to let properties or know of people who do will no doubt be aware of some of the challenges that can be faced when tenants don’t keep up with their side of the bargain. And short of contacting the police should a situation become criminal, landlords have nowhere to turn either.
An ombudsman would serve as a middle man, an arbitrator, in disputes and could help to ensure tenants operate in accordance to what was agreed in the contract. This means things like evictions – where necessary – should be much more efficient.
After years of government intervention one can understand why landlords recoil at the mere mention of further red tape, but I think this is one initiative that should work in the sector’s favour.