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A tightening of regulations regarding the letting of larger properties containing three or more storeys, converted into smaller self contained residential units, came into force at the beginning of April 2006. Further information on the Licence for Multiple Occupation is available on www.propertylicensing.gov.uk, but here are the basic facts:

The licences will be issued by the Local Authority after an inspection regarding room arrangements and sizes, facilities included and fire and safety regulations. The landlord will also have to satisfy the Local Authority that acceptable arrangements have been made for the management of the properties. The costs of these licences are expected to be around $100 per each tenant and will be renewable every 5 years.

Its felt that the tighter regulations may help genuine landlords wishing to enter the market, by assuring mortgage lenders that these properties are to be converted and managed in such a way that they could be favourably considered as suitable for buy to let mortgages.

Unscrupulous landlords may be less than happy with the new rules, which carry a fine of up to $20,000 if they dont conform.

Typically the property were referring to would be student accommodation. If you live in or near a University town youll be aware of the huge demand for such accommodation.

Here are a further two rules designed to protect tenants in multiply occupied properties:

  1. Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
  2. Housing Health and Safety Rating System

First, TDS – This regulation comes into force in October 2006 and is being introduced as an amendment to the Housing Act 2004.

It has been found that a source of contention between landlords and tenants is the refundable deposit situation. Some landlords are less than scrupulous and on the other hand, some tenants are slightly less than perfect! As soon as TDS comes in, all refundable deposits will be held in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. A scheme administrator, acting as a neutral referee, will hold the deposit. At the end of the tenancy the administrator will pay back the deposit to the tenant if all has gone well on both sides. If there are any adjustments to be made, they should be agreed at this time and then the administrator should be informed of the situation. Payment should be made by the administrator within 10 days of this notification.

If it is impossible to reach an agreement and it proves necessary for either party to obtain a final court order deciding the proportion of the deposit to be paid to either party, then the administrator holds the deposit until this stage is reached and will then pay out the money accordingly.

When an administrator returns a deposit, interest must be added. The decision on the rate will be announced by the Government. Any balance of interest will be retained by the administrator and may be used to fund the running of the scheme.

Secondly, the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. If a tenant is concerned that the condition of the property is affecting their health, they can call in inspectors to make a judgment on this. These inspectors will have the power to demand any repairs which they think are necessary. The fine for landlords not complying with these conditions will be up to $5,000.

Obviously, there will be a cost to landlords in complying with these new rules and this will have to be recouped. Not all landlords will have the means to carry out the work and in the short term some of the properties in really poor condition may close. The end result, though, should be a better standard of accommodation and a fairer deal overall, making it more tempting for shrewd investors to enter this type of market via a buy to let mortgage.