A new era of lettings regulation

Written by: Andrew Culverwell, Head of Sales & Lettings Compliance, Countrywide

2019 sees no respite for landlords or agents in terms of the implementation of new regulation and the prospect of further regulation on the horizon.

Navigating safely through an ever more complicated regulatory landscape is becoming more and more difficult for landlords without the help of either a letting agent or access to specialist legal support.

Tenant Fees Act

Following on the heels of the cessation of tenant fees in Scotland, a ban in England came into force on 1 June for assured shorthold tenancies, licences (lodgers) and student lettings. The Act does not apply to non-housing act tenancies and contractual tenancies such as company lets. Prohibited payments include charges associated with the creation, continuation and termination of a tenancy, e.g. referencing charges, inventory fees and costs associated with the preparation of a tenancy agreement.

Tenants remain responsible for the costs associated with a breach of the tenancy. A charge can also be levied where the terms of the agreement are varied at their request, e.g. the replacement of one tenant with another.

The Act also saw the capping of deposits to 5 weeks for rents up to £50,000 per year and 6 weeks for those greater than £50,000. Holding Deposits (Payments of Intent) have been capped at 1 weeks rent and are also subject to greater controls in terms of their holding and return.

On 1 September this year Wales will be following suite in banning their lettings fees.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard

Existing regulations that prevent the granting or renewal of a tenancy where the property fails to meet a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Rating of ‘E’ will be extended to all tenancies from April 1st 2020. Speak to your local branch today for further details, including how to register for any exemptions that might apply.

Ending a Tenancy - Section 21 Notices

In an effort to provide greater security for tenants, government has signalled its intent to reform the way tenancies are ended by landlords through the use of Section 21 Notices. In doing away with this as a method of ending a tenancy government hopes to end so called “No Fault Evictions”. Section 21 Notices allow landlords to seek possession without reason where the tenancy falls under the Housing Act (Assured Shorthold Tenancy). Whilst further details surrounding these changes are eagerly awaited it is understood that for landlords to gain possession, other than for a tenant breaching the terms of the Agreement, they will need to demonstrate that they are either moving back into the property or selling it.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2019

The Act came into force on March 20th and applies to all social and private landlords, including letting agents, in England.

Tenants can now take direct legal action if their home is found to be hazardous and the landlord or agent has failed to take action. Whilst largely mirroring existing regulations the Act serves to strengthen tenants’ rights where properties are not properly repaired and maintained.

Our Landlord Regulation Check Fee* includes:

  1. HMO Licence monitoring
  2. Deposit/Deposit Replacement Service
  3. Service of Notices
  4. Legislative Horizon Scanning
  5. Checking of Smoke and CO2 Alarms at commencement of the tenancy

*£11.40 per month (Inc. VAT)

For more information

Get in touch with your local branch if you have any questions on the current lettings market (regulation, compliance, mortgages, etc).

Contact your local branch