15th May 2019
Concentric's Compliance Director Dawn Bennett discusses the potential impact on self-managing landlords at a recent landlord seminar event:
Being a self-managing landlord isn’t as easy as people might think. Over the past few years, it has become even more of a challenge – there are many legislations you need to know about, and those are constantly evolving and being changed and updated. If you are not completely savvy with all of the legislation that you need to comply with, you could be facing some pretty hefty fines. But there are two in particular that are causing confusion with landlords currently, and those are the ones we will focus on here, because both of them will affect you as a self-managing landlord.
The laws around how you hold information has changed
Unless you’ve spent the last year living on another planet, you will likely have heard about GDPR. But do you know what it means for you, as a landlord?
All businesses that have control of their clients’ personal data have to be registered under GDPR with the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). And as a self-managing landlord, whether you are responsible for one property or have a portfolio of a large number of properties are running a business, and as such will have to comply as data controller for your tenants’ personal information.
The information that you hold on your tenants can be things like their names, email addresses, phone numbers, ages/DOB’s, financial details… and all of this is subject to privacy laws. The penalties for non-compliance can be hefty, so it is important that you ensure that you are registered and that you have paid the fees which apply to the ICO to avoid those penalties.
In order to be GDPR compliant, you need to make sure that the data that you hold is secure. That might mean that you set up passwords for data you hold digitally, and ensure that no-one else can get access to it.
You also need to make sure that you have gained permission to use people’s data. That means that you will need to have informed all of your tenants that you are holding certain personal information about them, and letting them know how you intend to use it.
If you have employed the services of an agent, or are thinking about doing so, then you need to ensure that they are registered with the ICO. You will then not need to be registered yourself, as you will not be responsible for holding tenant information, it will all be dealt with by your agent.
The Redress Scheme – what is it?
As well as registering with the ICO, landlords will potentially soon have to register with the Redress Scheme. This is something that all agents already have to do, but up to now, self-managing landlords haven’t. But that’s about to change.
The Redress Scheme exists to be an independent body in cases of dispute between letting agents, estate agents, and (soon) self-managed landlords, to offer a fair and resolution.
If a tenant has a grievance, rather than taking it through court, they can opt to complain to your redress scheme, who will adjudicate and attempt to resolve the problem. As such, you will need to be registered and pay a fee to a redress scheme, and ensure that your tenants are aware of who you are using, and know the procedure for making a complaint.
There are currently two options to which you can register. (Although there has been talk about having one central organisation in the future.) These are The Property Ombudsman Ltd, and the Property Redress Scheme, both of which are approved and can be found online via the Gov.uk website.
Again, if you decide to employ an agent to manage your properties, it will be their responsibility to join the scheme, not yours.