Important news for all landlords

15th February 2014
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The Department of Social Development (DSD) in Northern Ireland is launching a new piece of legislation in relation to Landlords. From the 25th February 2014 ‘The Landlord Registration Scheme Regulations (NI) 2012’ will be in operation. This legislation requires all Landlords who let properties under a private tenancy to register under the scheme.  

Landlords must register with the scheme immediately for tenancies commencing on or after the 25th February 2014. For all other existing tenancies, Landlords have 12 months to register (i.e. before 24th February 2015). Each registration lasts for three years, and costs £70.00 for an online submission and £80.00 for a paper submission.   Landlords who are set up as a company and those who have a ‘House of Multiple Occupancy’ Licence will be exempt from paying the registration fee. On completion of the Landlord Registration, the Registrar will issue a Certificate of Registration to confirm compliance with the scheme.

Who is a ‘Landlord’? For the purposes of this new legislation, a ‘Landlord’ is anybody who receives rent for accommodation. This encompasses a wide range of situations, including renting a property for short period of time. For example, renting your property while on holiday or having a lodger renting a room. All these situations create a private tenancy, thus you are considered a ‘Landlord’ liable for registration. The Details Required by Landlords for Registration:Schedule 11. A Landlord must provide:-(a) The Landlord’s full name;(b) The name, address and contact number of any agent acting on the Landlord’s behalf;(c) For each dwelling house let or to be let:- (i) The address including the postcode (ii) The date the house was built; and (iii) The name and contact details of all joint owners (if any);(d) Landlord’s address, email address, telephone number(s) (including mobile telephone number(s));(e) Correspondence address for the Landlord (which must be in Northern Ireland) if different from above;(f) The landlord’s date of birth;(g) Where the landlord is a landlord who is not liable under regulation 7 (2) to pay a fee:- (I) the House in Multiple Occupation registration certificate number; and (ii) The address of each House in Multiple Occupation;(h) Where the landlord is a company, the company registration numberNon-compliance with the Legislation:It has been stated that non-compliance of the Landlord Registration Scheme will be an offence.

If a Landlord does not complete the registration in the time frame noted above a penalty of up to £2,500.00 may be issued.Purpose & Aims of the Scheme:The DSD have set out aims for the Landlord Registration Scheme. Their main aims are as follows:1. To create a central register of all landlords in Northern Ireland2. To be proactive in their approach to Private Tenancies and to provide support and guidance3. To generally improve industry standards and tenancy management4. To develop appropriate evidence based policy through the information that will be gatheredFrom these aims the DSD acknowledges two main benefits involving both Landlords and Tenants. For Landlords the scheme should improve knowledge base, and create confidence and professionalism amongst industry counterparts. DSD envisages tenants will benefit from improved tenancy management and a more consistent approach to the enforcement of existing regulations.

Who has access to the Registration Information?There are numerous people/organisations that have access to the registration information. Firstly, the public will be able to do online searches, both Landlord based and property based. As the register is not yet live it is unknown as to how much information will be publically available.Three organisations will be able to access the information, to include: Local Councils (under the ‘Private Tenancies Order 2006’ and ‘Rent Order 1978’); Land and Property Services (under ‘The Rates Order 1977 & 2006’); and finally the Northern Ireland Housing Executive for the purpose of administration of Housing Benefit.Key Concerns Raised by Landlords:With any new legislation there are always going to be conflicting opinions.

One of the main concerns raised by several Landlords is the security levels surrounding the personal information that is required for registration. There is a broad spectrum of organisations that will have access to the Landlord Registration, including the public. The DSD who are working closely with The Landlord Association Northern Ireland are to provide details in due course of the safe guards being taken.There are also queries over the existence of policies in place to evaluate and review the legislation against its original proposal going forward. For those Landlords who do not agree with the benefits the registration will bring, the concern of the longevity of the legislation is paramount.

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