Q: I have five rental properties which I manage myself as I am retired and don’t want to incur letting agency fees. Two of the properties are holiday lets and three have long term tenants. Until now I have not had any concerns about dealing direct with tenants myself, but I have heard a couple of worrying things recently that are making me reconsider. The first was that landlords can now be held responsible for noisy tenants and the second was that landlords are now being held responsible for doing immigration checks if the tenant is not a UK national. Are these things true?
A: Taking the noise issue first, a district judge in Dorset recently upheld a noise abatement notice handed to the letting agent for a holiday homes management business, following a string of complaints about one of her properties on her books. The owner appealed but the judge dismissed the appeal, holding the agent accountable for the disturbances. His ruling means that both landlords and letting agents may now be held accountable if complaints are made about groups staying in their houses and if they contravene a noise abatement order they can incur a fine of up to £20,000. So this could be a good time to have a lawyer check over your letting contracts.
Regarding immigration checks, on 1st December 2014 a Home Office pilot scheme was launched in the West Midlands, making landlords responsible for checking the identity and citizenship of tenants. Under the Immigration Act 2014 landlords in that region now need to see a passport or biometric residence permit. Following the evaluation of the West Midlands scheme this Spring it is anticipated that the Home Office will then continue with the phased introduction of checks right across the UK.