Landlord and Lettings Information Updates

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

This page will be regularly updated with information which is vital to landlords. If there is anything within this page that you wish to speak with our teams about, please contact the office that manages your property. If you are a landlord looking for support or advice or are interested in our services, please contact the team using the numbers below:

ECIR

Regulations brought in during 2020 require landlords to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every 5 years. Landlords are legally required to provide a copy of this electrical safety report to their tenants, and, upon request, to their local authority.

This change to legislation means that ALL landlords must make sure that the electrical installations in their rented properties are safe, via a professional check.

Regulations that came into force on the 1st June 2020, form part of the Government’s wider work to improve safety in all residential premises and particularly in the private rented sector. Although in 2020 the legislation applied only to new tenancies, from the 1st April 2021, it applies to ALL TENANICES.

We have contacted all of our managed and part managed landlords in regards to this legislation. If you do not fall into this category, but require support, please contact your nearest office on the numbers above and we can discuss our management options with you.

For the full guidance, please read this page from the gov.uk website: ECIR Guide for Landlords

Consultation on Changes to Smoke Alarm & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Legislation

There are potential changes in letting legislation that are currently being consulted upon & of course we will keep our managed clients updated and their properties legal as things develop.

The one change we expect to be introduced early in 2021 is to Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms.

Smoke Alarms – this will only impact upon rental in the public sector, where we expect legislation to be brought into line with that which was introduced in 2015.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms – at present, legislation states that an alarm must be provided alongside any solid fuel burning appliance (aga, stove, open fire etc). It is expected that this will be extended to all Fixed Combustion Devices that are located within living accommodation (boilers, fires etc that burn gas, LPG or oil – but will exclude gas cookers). It is yet to be confirmed if a boiler located in a garage or outbuilding is considered ‘living accommodation’ but again, we will update as the legislation is passed.

As good practice, we have always recommended a CO alarm for such installations (& the majority of tenancies have them in place), but it is worthwhile checking your properties to ensure that there is one for each appliance, & if there is that it is within its lifespan (not past it’s sell-by date). Of course, this forms a part of the service we carry out for all managed contracts.

Please contact your Property Management Team if you need help, or if you would like to discuss the options for moving to a managed service with H&H.

Latest HOW TO RENT Guide

Please follow this link to read the latest How to Rent Guide from the Government. Please do not save this as a PDF but re-visit regularly to see any changes. How to Rent Guide.

Six Months’ Notice Periods

Regulations requiring six-month notice periods for tenancies came into force on Saturday 29 August 2020.

This change effectively extends the Coronavirus Act 2020 through to 31 March 2021.

This legislation will not be applied retrospectively and as such, section notices served prior to Saturday 29th August should retain a three-month notice period, however any notices issued from now onwards, must be served on the basis of a six-month notice period.

If there is a reason that you foresee where you will need to take back possession of your property before March 2021, or in and around that time, please get in touch at your earliest convenience so we can work with you to plan ahead.

As ever, we work tirelessly for the best interests of our clients and hope to be able to support you through these changes in legislation.

Full legislation information can be read on the Gov.uk website by following this link: Six-Month Notice Period

COVID-19 Guidance for Landlords & Tenants

The Government have released a set of non-statutory guidance notes for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors, focusing on the measures relating to notices seeking possession as amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020, court action on possession cases during the Coronavirus outbreak and in regard to property access in the context of Coronavirus restrictions.

Please follow this link to read our summary of the Government Guidance

Alternatively, the full government briefing document can be accessed here: Government Briefing Document

Together, with kindness, we will get through this. 

Market Update Autumn / Winter 2020

Whilst we work through these difficult & challenging times, the local letting market continues to be extremely active. The numbers enquiring for rental properties are as strong as ever & the quality of the applicants being screened is at the standard we seek to achieve.

Social distancing restrictions mean that physical viewings continue to be a challenge, but we have found that the introduction of video/virtual viewings has maintained interest from applicants. Engaging technology has helped to ensure that turnaround between tenancies sees a minimum impact.

Following significant assessment and consideration, it has been concluded that the risk of undertaking our usual 7-10 property visits each day for tenants and the H&H team falls outside safe practices and as such we will continue with their suspension. However, we remain in close contact with tenants, ensuring that a good flow of communication is maintained – particularly with regard to any maintenance matters that arise. In addition to this, we are exploring and trialling ways that we can use technology for managed tenancies, which will enable ‘live virtual tours’ with the tenant.

As we, tentatively, move towards the next phase of the pandemic, we expect demand for property to increase further over the forthcoming months. We will continue to action fixed term tenancy renewals on your behalf, ensuring that you & your tenants have the security of tenure going forward. On-going rent reviews will be conducted, helping to ensure that your rent is reflective of the market value of your property.

Our teams remain focused on providing the best possible assistance and service for your property, despite the challenging conditions and we thank you for your continued support.

Energy Efficiency Home Improvement Grants for Tenanted Properties

As you may be aware, HM Government have recently announced a fund of £2billon to be made available for Energy Efficiency Home Improvements.

In summary, landlords & home owners can make an application for a grant of up to £5,000, which can be used as a payment toward upgraded insulation or the installation of low carbon heating. 66% of the total cost can be covered by the grant with the remainder payable by the owner. 

The grant, launched by Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is available on a voucher basis. The grant will fund up to £10,000 per home for low income households with no contribution.

The scheme has ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ measures and unfortunately gas boilers are excluded. Primary measures are: 6 types of insulation, air source heat pumps and solar water heating. Secondary measures are: double glazing, draught proofing, smart heating controls etc. Primary measures must be installed first in order to qualify for secondary.

We have been in discussions with a national company who will handle the process of applying for the grant & completion of authorised works. On instruction, Eco Energi Services will evaluate your rental property from the EPC, compile a report of any improvements that may be part funded from the grant, make the application on your behalf and then arrange for the works to be completed using TrustMark approved contractors.

Central Government are presently working on Legislation that will require rental properties to be minimum EPC Rating C from April 2025 (all new & renewed tenancies from 2025, existing tenancies from 2027). In addition, any landlords seeking exemption from the legislation for their properties, will need to show evidence of a minimum spend of £10,000 in energy efficiency improvements.

Therefore, we advise all landlords to consider applying for Green Deal Finance now.

If this is something you would like to investigate further, then please contact our office on 01604 823445 or email northletts@howkinsandharrison.co.uk and we will put you in direct contact with Eco Energi Services who can provide more information.

MEES Regulations from 1st April 2020

Since 1st April 2018, Landlords have not been permitted to lease out their property (be that a commercial or residential lease) if the property EPC rating is below an E, without remedial works to improve the rating, unless it falls within one of the permitted  exceptions. If the property is a residential tenancy, the landlord was expected to invest £3,500 (inclusive of VAT) on the improvements. If that amount did not bring the rating above an E, the tenancy still complies.

From Wednesday 1st April 2020, not only did these requirements apply to new tenancies, they are for existing agreements too, whenever the lease was granted.

Follow this link to our MEES information article for guidance on the exemptions to MEES and the Green Growth Strategy

MEES Support

If you require help or support through the MEES legislation, please contact our lettings team by emailing your existing office if you are already a part- or fully-managed landlord client, or by emailing lettings@howkinsandharrison.co.uk and we will get your local Lettings Manager to give you a call.

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