For landlords it’s often hard to tell who makes the laws and the regulations and in the UK we do have a strange balance between national legislation and local regulation. Often it’s hard to tell where to go if you need help or to find out more information, so here’s a quick guide to what is national and what is local.
Theory and Application
The general rule is that parliament makes the rules and local councils apply them to their areas. The theory of a law or an issue is debated in parliament and a bill is passed and put into statute, that is the law of the UK. Often laws are left open for local authorities to interpret and crown courts, planning committees and town councils across the country have their own say on what is appropriate when the laws are applied.
Legislation and Law Making
The government tend to set laws at a high level in the UK and this includes things like HMO legislation, health and safety laws and tax policy. These are benchmarks for all landlords to follow and breaches of these regulations will most probably land you in criminal court. The only higher authority that national law is a high court and, if necessary, a European court. These laws are consistent across the UK and, in many cases, across the EU.
Enforcement and Licensing
The enforcement of the laws made by the national government falls to the local authority and they may have slightly different interpretations of the various laws. If you have a complaint about tenants this will be dealt with locally, for example. In some areas freedom in the legislation allows councils to set up landlord licensing, in others it doesn’t. Your local authority, your council or even your landlord insurance provider can advise you on these issues.
If you’re ever unsure about an issue, local or national, it’s wise to ask: the worst that can happen is you’re asking in the wrong place! You should take some time to get familiar with local regulation and national laws, and online blogs and magazines are one of the best ways to keep up to date.