News items that caught our eye this week.
Paying for EPC Improvements
New standards came into force in April which provided that Landlords must bring the energy efficiency rating of their properties up to a minimum of E which we discussed here.
However, if this was going to cost anything there would be an exemption.
This is now going to change though and the government have announced that they will be introducing a requirement that landlords should be expected to pay up to £3,500 (including VAT).
The upgrade work is expected to cost £1,200 on average and the new rules is expected to affect some 290,000 properties, which represents around 6% of the overall domestic market.
Claire Perry, energy and clean growth minister, said:
While the vast majority of landlords take great pride in the properties they own, a minority still rent out housing that is difficult to keep warm.
Upgrading these homes so they are more energy efficient is one of the most effective ways to tackle fuel poverty and help bring down bills for their tenants, saving them £180 a year.
David Cox, CEO or ARLA commented
Over the past few years, the financial burdens faced by landlords have increased time after time, which is pushing rent costs up and driving buy-to-let investors out of the market.
Under the Energy Act 2011, the Government pledged to avoid any ‘upfront costs’ for landlords – a principle which has been disregarded by setting the cap as high as £3,500.
The Government should now show its support for landlords by reintroducing the Landlords’ Energy Saving Allowance (LESA) and extending it to include anything contained within the recommendations report of an EPC.
The new measures are expected to come into force in April 2019.
The Tenant Fee Ban
There is an interesting post on Property Industry Eye here which reports on the discussions during the committee stage of the Tenant Fees Bill in the House of Lords.
One topic discussed was the legality of letting agents and landlords taking multiple deposits. There were calls for regulations rather than guidance on the use of holding deposits to make it clear when they could be retained and to define what a default fee is. However, it looks as if the government is keen to avoid regulations and it is looking to provide guidance instead.
They also discussed incentives to encourage agents to introduce the measures early.
However, there is a question mark over how much good these rules are going to do to tenants.
Data from lettings platform Goodlord, based on 30,000 tenancies processed through its software found rent increases and subsequent higher deposits will outweigh any benefit of the fee ban in many regions.
This is particularly the case where agents and landlords use the full six-week cap proposed on a security deposit, Goodlord said.
They concluded that tenants could on average end up saving just £138, rather than the £200-300 claimed by the government.
A big problem with Client Money Protection
Baroness Hayter has told Property Industry Eye that
The Government is proposing that all CMP schemes would have to increase their cover to £200m and with no upper limit at all on liability.
However, this level of cover is not available in the market. David Cox explained the details to Eye concluding
To be able to pay out without any deduction, Propertymark would be required to increase its insurance cover from the £5m it has in 2018 to over £200m, a 4000% increase.
There is simply not enough capacity in the insurance market to achieve the cover. …
The impact will be that the large business will not be able to obtain CMP cover and will be forced to either cease trading or operate unlawfully.
Which would cause a few problems!
- A Bristol housing charity tops the list of most prosecuted landlords
- An interesting case on Nearly Legal about the tenant’s entitlement to claim under a tenancy agreement clause where a wall collapsed making the property unsafe
- Research shows one in ten properties on Zoopla specifies no benefit tenants
- Government is making £2 million available for grants to tackle rogue landlords
- Peers may not have had briefings from ARLA or the RLA on the tenant fee ban
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