As landlords will know, annual lettings legislation updates and amendments are fundamentally important, if not an exhausting part of letting a property. It’s essential that as a landlord, you stay completely up to date with all the changes that occur and it’s sensible to keep informed all year round.
The penalties for failing to do so are strict and can in fact result in heavy fines and, in the most severe cases, even prison sentences.
What happened in 2019?
Legislatively speaking, 2019 was a very eventful year for several reasons.
The Tenants Fees Act 2019 was passed into law in February 2019, and as a result, letting fees were banned in England from 1st June 2019. This piece of legislation was brought in to ensure that tenants were able to see how much a given property costs them in rent, without any hidden costs added in.
The knock-on effect of this means that deposits are now capped at five weeks’ rent (or six for tenancies that cost more than £50,000 a year). What’s more, agents and landlords will be banned from charging fees for anything other than contract changes, council and utilities tax, changes to the tenancy, and issues for which the tenant is at fault.
In addition, replacing the existing 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act was the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act which was passed on 20th March.
This requires landlords to guarantee that their property is free from any hazards and is fit for human habitation. Properties breaching this law are now liable for court action from tenants.
The law was designed to empower tenants to take legal action if their property is found to breach the guidelines, and to improve property conditions within both the private and social sectors.
What’s more, from 1st April 2019, all private-sector agents were required to join a government-approved Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme or face up to a £30,000 fine.
This law now ensures that the client’s funds are always protected, which brings reassurance to people across the industry that their money is safe while with their agent.
Luckily, at Townends we’re experts on compliance so we’re able to assist landlords by regularly managing the ever-changing compliance laws. Our lettings team is always monitoring for updates and if you want a property management team that is constantly looking out for you, speak to us today.
What 2020 has in store for property letting
The next decade will, in all likeliness, bring huge change for the private rental sector. It is also forecast to be one of huge growth.
More people will be renting for longer periods than before, with projections showing that 25% of people will be living in the Private Rented Sector in just five years’ time. This is clearly good news for landlords who will want to capitalise on the many opportunities offered by the growing demographic of renters. However, focusing solely on 2020, the coming twelve months won’t be without their changes.
So what amendments, trends and legislation updates can we expect this year?
Rents are expected to rise
Firstly, it’s probable that the most welcome news for landlords is that rents are expected to rise further this year.
A diminishing number of rental properties means that demand will rise further, with tenants willing to pay extra to secure their preferred home.
This corresponds with the predictions made by the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors, that rents will rise by 15% between 2018 and 2023.
Rent controls in London
However, in order to combat the above, there’s an emerging consensus that rental prices need to be controlled. The issue regarding the capital’s rent controls began back in 2017 with Labour’s general election manifesto.
While nothing has yet been confirmed, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has made rent controls a central policy in his 2020 re-election bid, pledging to develop a “blueprint for stabilising or controlling private rents in the capital.”
The 5th anti-money laundering directive
On 19th April 2018, the European Parliament adopted the 5th Anti‑Money Laundering Directive. The amendments are a result of the European Commission’s 2016 Action Plan to tackle the use of the financial system for the funding of criminal activities, terrorist financing and the large‑scale obfuscation of funds. This legislation came in to force on 10th January 2020.
In order to comply with the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, Easte Agents are now required to verify your ownership of the property at the point of instruction and check proof of identity and one proof of residence once an offer is agreed.
At Townends Estate Agents, we use multi-award-winning organisation, Credas which enables us to authenticate documents in real-time with all data securely stored in the European Union.
Minimum energy efficiency standards
The minimum threshold of an E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) came into force on 1st April 2018 and applies to all new lets and renewals.
The rules will be extended to all tenancies come 1st April 2020, and all existing tenancies must be brought up to this new standard by the 2020 deadline.
This means that, under the new legislation, properties with an EPC rating of F or G will be classed as unrentable from that date on.
Complaints Resolution Service
The government has recently announced a new housing complaint service for the entire market.
There are currently several different complaint bodies, making it difficult for people to know exactly where to send queries when wishing to register a complaint against a builder or landlord.
This new service is designed to provide a straight-forward way for everyone to receive help with unresolved disputes.
Electrical installation checks
While the implementation date isn’t yet known, the government appears committed to introducing mandatory five-year electrical installation checks on private rented housing in England.
From what has been revealed so far, this will likely be introduced in a phased manner, and agents and landlords should have at least six months to familiarise themselves with the new legislation before it comes into force.
Section 21 evictions
Section 21 evictions were a major topic of debate towards the end of 2019, with the government debating whether to repeal this particular part of the Housing Act.
This allows landlords to end a ‘rolling’ tenancy with two months’ notice, without giving any reason for doing so.
There’s an argument in favour of repealing Section 21 evictions as by getting rid of them, tenants have greater security. However, landlords fear the proposed changes could mean that they will have to take troublesome tenants to court just to repossess their own homes.
The ‘rogue landlord’ database
It’s fair to say that so far, the rogue landlord database has not really worked.
A report by The Guardian newspaper found that only four landlords were added to the database in its first year.
However, in July 2020, the government said it plans to open up the database to allow tenants to check whether their landlord or managing agent is included.
How Townends can help
Townends are the landlords’ choice for assisting with managing a property. Put simply, we’re the best option out there.
Our knowledgeable, trustworthy and reliable team can help you along every step of the way regarding the lengthy processes that come with letting out property in the UK.
Staying compliant with all these changing pieces of legislation is time consuming and complicated. However, at Townends, we’re fully qualified in keeping rental properties fully compliant with the law, as we’ve been doing for over 25 years right across London and Surrey.
Contact us today to find out more about our Fully Managed and Fully Managed Plus property management services which take the strain out of all aspects of letting out property for landlords everywhere.
We also offer a free property valuation service, providing you with the all the right information to market your property. We’ll get to know the residences in your portfolio as though they were our own. This enables us to market your rental homes to their maximum potential, gaining you more rental income.
Let us do what we do best – manage your property. Book your valuation today.