Friday, September 19, 2008

Guest article – a view from the United States, from Kelly Kilpatrick

The Landlord-Law blog being a British blog, generally only looks at housing in England and Wales. However, this article, kindly provided by Kelly Kilpatrick, gives a transatlantic viewpoint. Note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of Kelly and do not necessarily reflect mine. If you are outside England & Wales and would like to write something about housing in your country, please contact me.

Consistency in Policy Regarding Tenant-Landlord Relations

Over the last several years, much has been done in the United Kingdom to reform Housing regulations. First came new laws to license owners of HMOs (Houses in multiple occupation). The reasoning behind this was that the owners of these properties were able to make a great deal of money without having to adhere to any sort of standards in regard to their tenants’ conditions.

Many HMOs were seen to be in poor or shabby condition, not providing the necessary function nor were they providing the amenities that the tenants were paying hard-earned money for. Although some landlords are still unlicensed, much progress has come with these reforms, benefiting both tenant and landlord.

The benefit of licensing an HMO ensures that the property in question meets certain standards and criteria. The tenant benefits by having a place to live that meets legal criteria and is suitable for habitation, making it worth the money spent on rent. The landlord, in turn, fixes up his property to meet the criteria and increases the value of his property as well as the amount of rent he is able to charge.

How does this compare with what is done in the United States? Each state handles its dealings with housing quite differently. What’s done in New York is handled in a completely different way than it is in Texas, for example. Housing authorities exist, but deal primarily with government-subsidized housing projects for those who live beneath the poverty line.

Generally speaking, there is a whole variety of ways tenants and landlords deal with one another in the states. In Texas, for example, the landlord of a rental property can ask for references or may not. He can ask for a deposit, and does not have to prove this deposit is protected, unlike the new tenancy deposit protection laws in the UK require landlords to do. Additionally, tenant and landlord can agree upon the terms themselves or sign a leasing agreement. None of this, however, is required by law.

Conditions in housing in the States also vary quite greatly from locale to locale. Since there is no standard law to which all landlords must adhere, the system is quite flawed, filled with fraud and unsettled disputes, much like it was in the UK before these wide-sweeping reforms were put into place. It is common practice to put shabby materials in a rental property, only to be able to subtract it from a tenant’s lease at the end of the term.

Predatory leasing is not practiced out in the open, but many apartment complexes and leasing companies use the old bait and switch to get people in the door in order to lease them something different. Many times, paperwork gets “lost,” and the terms of the lease have been changed, only to be discovered by the tenant at an inopportune time.

Naturally, most people who wish to spend their money with someone who is reputable and has established guidelines for the leasing agreement, as well as terms by which the deposit is released once the rental term is up.

Although it was a tough transition for many Britons, the HMO licensing act, as well as the tenancy deposit protection legislation has provided safeguards for both tenant and landlord alike. This has ultimately changed the face of tenant-landlord relations into a market that is now more consistent than ever before.

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This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of the colleges for criminal justice. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com (although please also post feedback on this blog!).

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1 comment:

Larnaca Property said...

Nice article and I really have learnt a bit of how the housing deals are handled differently in the various states in America. Such articles should be included so that we know briefly about the different rules that govern housing in different countries. Thanks !