New UK landlord laws: what you need to know
Using technology to address new landlord legislation and keep up quality standards can help property managers and social housing organisations stay on top of ticketing, enhance inspections, increase transparency, improve first-time fix rates, and streamline operations.
As with every industry, the pandemic severely disrupted social housing, especially maintenance and repairs. During times of high transmission, COVID-19 regulations led to the hindrance — and, in some cases, altogether halt — of maintenance plans in the UK and around the world.
Although landlords and property managers managed to safely assist residents with more dire needs, more often than not, anything less fell to the wayside.
“Providers maintained service for emergencies during lockdown, but they were not generally dealing with other repairs, which led to a backlog,” according to John Barnes, a director at British real estate services company Savills.
Many housing providers are still working through that backlog, even as landlord repairs responsibilities expand under new legislation.
Using technology to address new landlord legislation and keep up quality standards can help property managers and social housing organisations stay on top of ticketing, enhance inspections, increase transparency, improve first-time fix rates, and streamline operations — not to mention, allow tenants to feel heard.
New landlord legislation in the UK
As changes to landlord and tenant law — such as the long-awaited Renters Reform Bill — come into play, things are going to change for everyone involved. Ultimately, the goal is to halve the number of non-decent homes in the UK by 2030.
The process to define the standards that make a “decent home” is underway. The
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has requested further input from the public on this matter. Feedback can be submitted until 11:45 pm on 14 October 2022.
Additionally, new Housing Ombudsman complaints procedures (detailed in the updated Complaint Handling Code) will make it easier for tenants to report issues to their landlords. Landlords are obligated to raise awareness of the complaints process to their residents by 1 October 2022.
Other key points of the Renters Reform Bill to be aware of include:
- The abolishment of Section 21 “no-fault” evictions, which will empower tenants to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of retaliation.
- The extension of the Decent Homes Standard to the private rental sector and, potentially, the creation of a national landlord register, as well as a portal where tenants can track their landlord’s performance and hold them accountable.
- A new ombudsman for renters to take complaints against landlords without going to court.
- New standards for upkeep and repairs for both private and social housing sectors.
- For landlords, the introduction of new and stronger grounds for repeated incidences of rent arrears and “reduced notice periods for antisocial behaviour.”
Consequences for non-compliance
Many housing associations rely on government funding, which can be withheld from those who don’t follow regulations.
Additionally, the UK housing crisis has been a popular topic of discussion in recent months, and housing providers who fail to meet basic requirements will undoubtedly face bad press. There has even been a push from the UK government to name and shame social housing landlords who fail to keep up safety and decency standards.
Therefore, it’s more important than ever for landlords to create the best possible tenant experience.
How technology can help you keep up
As these new rules for landlords in 2022 and beyond begin to roll out, technology is a solid, effective way to stay on top of the changes, ensure high standards of living for tenants, and streamline operations for social housing organisations.
Here are a few technological upgrades property managers can implement that will make all the difference:
Automation and IoT devices
The Internet of Things (now known widely as IoT) is finally gaining traction in the UK social housing sector, in large part because sensor devices can monitor for specific issues and automatically alert landlords when attention is needed.
IoT sensors can help landlords:
- Prevent mold by monitoring temperature and humidity levels
- Avoid outages with emergency lighting
- Detect legionella in water by monitoring temperature
- Automate readings and track usage via smart meters
Automation and IoT can also decrease no-access appointments, improve first-time fix rates, and reduce chase calls to call centres. With automated alerts triggered by geofencing and real-time tracking, tenants can see when their technician will arrive for a repair. And via two-way communication, residents can let service people know relevant access information. Overall, the proactive use of automation and data collection and tracking will reduce compliance risks down the line.
New building safety regulations will increase the quality needed for inspections, and virtual inspections are an incredible digital-first tool for technicians.
Video diagnostic appointments from services like Vyntelligence can help surveyors, property managers, and technicians document, assess, and diagnose problems via virtual walkthroughs before an appointment. This allows technicians to better prepare for the issues ahead, improving first-time fix rates and decreasing the likelihood of reschedules or reworks.
An online tenant repair portal
Tenants shouldn’t have to wonder about the status of their repairs appointment. Give them peace of mind that their requests are being logged and tended to by offering an online tenant portal for repairs.
There, tenants should be able to see the details of their request, their appointment information, and even information on their assigned technician. They should also have the ability to reschedule an appointment and report updates that can better prepare their technician for the repair.
Standards are changing — it’s time to get innovative
Working through service backlogs whilst also complying with new standards is a hefty task, but when you leverage technology to optimise your workflow, you’ll find it’s easier than ever to tackle every job quickly and skilfully.
The best part? You don’t have to overhaul your entire tech stack to make successful changes.
A partner like Localz bolts onto your existing platforms to provide the automation, real-time tracking, two-way communication, streamlined services, and customer feedback you need to implement the standards required by new landlord legislation — and any more changes to come.