We blogged a little while ago about major changes in European Union Data Protection law which come into effect this May. These are known as GDPR. They affect just about anyone who collects or handles people’s personal data. But we don’t think the message is getting through, so here is a not very subtle reminder.
GDPR will have massive implications about how you collect, receive, store, share and handle information about your tenants and clients. The penalties if you get things wrong can be massive. If you handle people’s data (and that can be very broadly defined!) you really should familiarise yourself with these changes.
It’s a massive subject – and will affect different types of organisations, companies and private landlords in different ways, so I’m not going to even try and summarise it. But here are some links to start you off. For companies – the Informaiton Commissioner’s Office is probably the best first step. For smaller, private landlords (even if you own just one property) – please see here though I should make our standard disclaimer that as this one is not a government or council website, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information it contains. Most of the professional landlord organisations or trade groups for lettings/estate agents are starting to put information up on their respective websites –so there is plenty of information out there. Get googling.
The changes will also have major effects on how we do things at the council. We are cuirrently working hard to get all of our procedures and practices up to date in readiness and we will use the blog to let you know what this means for you and your tenants as the information becomes available.
Apologies for being repetitious – but this one is important. We blogged recently on the proposed changes in the licensing rules for House in Multiple Occupation.
Although we are still awaiting confirmation (and we are trying very hard to get this) it seems that the changes might take effect more quickly than expected, with the licensees being introduced in April this year. Primary legislation is not required so the government may be able to implement the changes more quickly than we were expecting. However, there is likely to be a six month grace period, which means you can apply for a license from April, but will only start facing penalties for not possessing one from October 2018. I would stress though (please note the emphasis here) that the grace period itself is still subject to confirmation so watch this space.
I know that it’s not the best practice to put out information, without having the facts but we do need to try and raise some awareness. So if you are an HMO landlord – apologies for the lack of hard detail for now – but do please start thinking about this issue. April (or even October) is closer than you think and you might need to start factoring license costs (even if annoyingly we don’t yet have any figures for what they might be) into your immediate financial planning. And you should definitely be thinking about room sizes right away if you have an HMO with smaller rooms or are in the process of planning one. The standard will be:
Rooms used for sleeping by 1 adult will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by 2 adults will have to be no smaller than 10.22 square metres. Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres.
There is a very good article looking at the background of the room size issue here . I have to say that as this link is not to an official council or government website – we can’t vouch for accuracy and do not necessarily agree with the author’s opinions – but you will probably find it worth read.
If you’re a landlord and you own the white goods your tenant uses – fridge, washer, tumbler, cooker etc – don’t forget that their maintenance and safety is your responsibility. You might have seen in the news recently that there has been a rash of product recalls on various appliances as various models have been catching fire!
I’ve had a close brush with this myself. Just before Christmas my son-in-law had a brand new tumble dryer burst into flames. Fortunately, he was in the room at when it happened. He’s a practical, quick witted guy and was able to get the fire out himself before any real damage was done. Nonetheless, it’s pretty scary, especially as there were two small children in the house. Not everyone would have coped so well, (I doubt that I could have done) – especially with an electrical fire.
If you think you might have an electrical product that has been subjected to a recall – there is now a government website where you can check. Given that these problems often occur in new goods, it means it’s unlikely that anything would have been picked up on a PAT test. Liz (the blog’s co-editor and general housing expert) recommends that you have a PAT – or portable electric appliance test done annually. And for certain Houses in Multiple occupation annual PAT tests are compulsory.
Just as importantly – don’t forget you must have a smoke detector on each floor in a tenanted property. No excuses!
When is it legal for you to go into your property if the tenant has not given you direct permission?
Generally speaking – you can’t. But there is some useful information on the subject here . Please bear in mind that this link is not to a council webpage, so please don’t regard it as official advice, it’s for your information only.
And a final reminder for the landlord and tenant speed dating event at Brushstrokes this Wednesday (31st January – please see earlier post from 22nd january for full details). It might be just the opportunity you need to find your next tenant.