Over the past few years, the property industry has changed considerably, and this is set to continue. The forefront of these changes have been led by legislation being passed through local and central government; some of these changes have been for the better, whereas others are questionable. Responsibility continues to be placed on agents, with steep fines attached to non-compliance. In order to stay ahead of these changes, we make sure we are always in the loop Check out the latest changes below…
ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATES From April 2018, it became a requirement for all private rented sector properties to have a minimum rating E on its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These new standards make it unlawful to let residential or commercial properties with an EPC Rating of F or G (the lowest 2 grades of energy efficiency). If the landlord does not comply with the legislation and a substandard property is re-let, they will face a penalty fine of up to £5,000 per property.
HOW TO RENT GUIDE The government has published another updated version of the ‘How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England’, being the third this year. As part of the Deregulation Act 2015, it is a legal requirement for you to give your tenants a copy of this guide when creating a new assured shorthold tenancy in England. If you haven’t, a Section 21 Possession Notice will be invalid, and any application for a Possession Order will be thrown out if it gets to Court. As your managing agent, W J Meade will serve these documents along with other core documents. So, if you are thinking of getting us to manage your property, get in contact with your local branch now.
HMO PROPERTY LICENSING Since mandatory licencing was introduced by the 2004 Housing Act, any landlord with a property housing 5 or more unrelated occupants over 3 or more stories has had to apply for a licence from their local authority. From October 2018, mandatory licensing will apply to all shared homes with five or more occupants, from two or more households. Whereas existing mandatory licensing applies to around 60,000 properties, the new legislation is projected to cover around 175,000 properties.
CLIENT MONEY PROTECTION W J Meade are proud to announced that we now offer our clients total loss Client Money Protection (CMP) through our membership with UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA). This improved service comes in advance of a raft of changes for the private rented sector (PRS) in 2018 including the Government’s intention to introduce compulsory CMP insurance. In recent news, a letting agent director who stole over £350,000 from landlords, has just been sentenced to 17 months in prison. Cases like this are a poignant reminder of the importance of joining a Client Money Protection membership scheme. The CMP available exclusively through UKALA members is not available to anyone else in the market. With loss limits at individual landlord and tenant level removed, the cover – which is underwritten by leading UK insurer Hiscox – is comprehensive.
TENANT FEE BAN Due in in April 2019, the Bill to ban Tenant Fees is due to become live legislation. This act will make it illegal to charge tenants for referencing, inventories and any other admin costs. As well as administration costs being banned, tenancy deposits will be limited to 6 weeks’ rent, holding deposits will be capped at one week’s rent, however default fees will be chargeable to tenants if they break or amend their AST. These however, will be at a ‘reasonable cost’. Currently the Bill is being passed through the House of Lords and Commons. We should see the final amendments shortly.
STAMP DUTY CHANGES In the Autumn Budget on November 22nd 2017 the Government announced changes to stamp duty for first time buyers. The changes, which were applied with immediate effect, meant that stamp duty for most first time buyers (up to £300,000) in England and N. Ireland has been permanently abolished.