8 Tips for keeping up with rental legislation for property managers

8 Tips for keeping up with rental legislation for property managers

8 Tips for keeping up with rental legislation for property managers

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Kersten Mehl FSCSI FRICS

Kersten is the Managing Director of KMPM and has been involved in Property Management for the last 4 decades. Kersten is also a Past President of the SCSI.

The premise of this article was to focus on how to manage the raft of legislative changes in Tenancy Laws and keep landlords abreast of same.

I think it is fair to say that we are appointed by landlords to manage their properties on the basis that they don’t really want to be involved in it on a day-to-day basis. I do not see any point in sending reams of information to landlords in relation to legislative change. I think the most important aspect for the practitioner is to ensure that they are up to speed with these changes to enable us to protect ourselves and to enhance the service we provide to our clients.

There has been almost annual changes to the 2004 Tenancies act since 2015. Most recently, we have seen the enactment of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act in December. It beholds us, the practitioners, to familiarise ourselves literally on a week-to-week basis of these changes because an incorrect Notice of Rent Review, Notice of Termination etc. could leave us legally exposed.

Please bear in mind that the tenants have an array of forces on their side, not just the politicians but also organisations such as Threshold and Citizens Rights (all funded by the tax payer). Threshold in particular are very conversant with all legislative changes.

So, what do we do? RTB Registrations and the various notices go through at least 6 different hands in our office and each of my colleagues have a brief to keep on top of these changes to notices in their area. For example, in December, my colleague who does the RTB registrations informed me that the new RTB portal not only requires the landlords PPS number but also their date of birth and in some cases their middle name or the registration is not recognised as complete. Something as subtle as this can have huge long-term implications, no tenancy registered, no legal contract.

Accordingly, I set out a few tips that might be of some assist practitioners in this area.

8 Tips for Managing Rental Legislation Changes:

  • Check the RTB website weekly, particularly the changes in Notices. This might seem over the top but the changes are coming quick and fast with every minister seemingly determined to put their fingerprints on new legislation.
  • If you have any query in relation to any notices, contact the online chat service on the RTB website. It is a useful platform that my colleagues use regularly.
  • If you cannot find the correct format for any new notices etc, the online chat service will be able to direct you to the correct template.
  • Watch the SCSI website for updates on Tenancy legislation.
  • Appoint someone in your firm who coordinates all the RTB issues.
  • The RTB have training days and hold seminars, you should make a point of tapping into same.
  • Push yourself to get involved in RTB Adjudications and Tribunals. I have represented landlords in over 100 of same and it is very educational. I am aware there is always the prospect of losing a case but the benefit of getting involved and listening to the adjudicators in the tribunals discussing issues has been very enlightening.
  • If your client asks you to do a Rent Review, do so immediately. In the last 6 months we have gone from 4% increase in Rent Pressure Zone calculator, to tying same to inflation and now capping inflation at 2%. If a client asked you to increase the rent 6 months ago and you didn’t, there are obvious implications.

We live in an era of fundamental change driven by technology and social media. We have to adapt. Personally, I am sitting at my office between 5:30 – 6:00am, 6 days a week to confront this change. I am not recommending that to anyone but if you practise in this area, it is important that you have a clear understanding of every nuance of legislative. This is the way I have adapted. There are serious implications if 6 months down the process of a Termination of a Tenancy you become aware that you have submitted an incorrect notice on behalf of your client.

Finally, I would have one particular word of advice. Property Management should not be treated as a side line to other activities you engage in. Lettings can be a useful side line to supplement sales income, but Residential Property Management is now fraught with risk. Either embrace it in total or don’t do it at all.

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