This year has seen a lot of changes to the laws and legislation surround landlords and letting agents and as we enter 2020 it is imperative that you’re up to speed with the new laws and legislation or else risk tighter punishments. The changes have caused some controversy and certainly mixed reactions and whilst further changes could be on the way, now is the time to ensure you know everything that’s changed in 2019.
Since June 2019, there has been a ban on tenancy fees, so now tenants only need to put down a deposit and subsequent rent. This means fees for referencing or inventory checks can no longer be charged, possibly placing the cost back onto the landlord. However, landlords can still charge to replace lost keys or for late payment of rent. A landlord can incorporate the charges for referencing etc back into the rent price, but it is worth bearing in mind that you should keep your rent at a competitive price. Potentially, it may even be worth paying out these costs yourself, so you don’t discourage potential tenants.
Furthermore, there is now a cap on tenant deposits. The cap is at five weeks’ rent for properties where the annual rent is less than £50,000. That cap increases to six weeks’ rent where the annual rent is £50,000 or more. Before this, there was no cap on deposits meaning some tenants were being charged ridiculous up-front costs alongside a whole month’s rent and those additional fees.
Additionally, the government has consulted on introducing a three-year tenancy term, with a six-month break clause. This would follow a similar model that has already been introduced in Scotland. It’s a move that could prove popular among tenants seeking long-term security from their rental property. Government data reveals that people stay in their rented homes for an average of nearly four years – and yet 81 per cent of rental contracts are assured shorthold tenancies with a minimum fixed term of six to twelve months.
Alongside these changes, landlords can now find themselves facing harsher sentences if found to be providing tenants with inadequate living conditions. Thanks to ‘The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act’ renters can now sue their landlords over failing to properly maintain their properties if they are deemed ‘unfit’ to live in. This comes as a relief for many as it hopefully means the end of the typical damp student squalor type accommodation, made famous in such programmes as Rising Damp. Unfortunately, this was a fictional programme based on very real cultural appropriations but not only student accommodation is affected and many find themselves in poorly ventilated properties that are wracked with damp and mould. There is good and bad on both sides when it comes to housing conditions; landlords are happy to rent out damp and mould ridden properties and tenants who live in properties in utter disgraces whose landlords are having to spend thousands repairing and redecorating.
Another major update is the changes to Section 21 notice process, the Government has announced that private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes without good reason. This will bring an end to private landlords uprooting tenants from their homes with as little as eight weeks' notice after their fixed-term contracts come to an end. However, this has caused some controversy with landlords, especially those worried about being faced with a tenant who has let the property run into disrepair or even deliberately dirtied it. The main concern is landlords facing cases where rogue tenants are being granted indefinite leave to remain in the property, even when they are not paying the rent.
There is certainly two sides to these updates and risk penalising either landlords or tenants and the best course of action is to ensure you’re up to date and aware of the new legislation, your paperwork is all in order, you make sure your property is advertised at a reasonable rate – don’t whack the price up in fear of having to cover the cost of the now scrapped fees, ensure your property is free from mould and have protection in place so it remains mould free.
The best way to fight mould is to prevent it from ever growing in the first place and the best prevention is proper ventilation. In winter, mould becomes much more pronounced, simply because the air is naturally colder, and we tend to generate more heat inside our homes to try and stave off the drop-in temperature. However, if this is not done effectively, it can begin to lead to damp, and a rising amount of water vapour in your property is not a great idea. When you live there yourself, you can expect to take care of a home how you would know it needs managing - with windows open, effective ventilation, and making sure surfaces are wiped down. However, these are only auxiliary measures that do not tackle the issue at heart, which is why ventilation solutions are perfect for landlords. You can install equipment that does not break your bank but preserves the health of your tenants in the long run and makes sure your house is less likely to fall into disrepair. When you come to EnviroVent, you can be sure that you are picking the experts in helping you decide which ventilation equipment will suit your property best, no matter the size and your budget. Given that it keeps both your property and your tenants healthier and happier, it seems like a win-win situation.