Landlords and tenants, what is expected in 2020?
This blog article covers Landlords and tenants, what is expected in 2020? With every year that comes, there are new trends, regulations, and such like to anticipate and prepare for, and this is certainly the case in the letting sector. With that being said, below, take a look at what we expect to be new throughout 2020, from new rules to popular hotspots in the UK letting sector.
The eco-friendly standards
One thing that all landlords need to be prepared for is the eco-friendly standards that are becoming part of the tenancy law in April 2020. Last year, on April 1st, 2018, it became law that all new private properties for rent needed to have a minimum of an E on the Energy Performance Certificate rating scale. This year, on April 1st, we will see this come into place for all existing tenancies.
If you have a property that you rent out with an F or G rating, you will be in breach of the law. You will first get a warning. After you do not adhere to this, you can then face fines and legal action.
Crackdown on tenancy agreements
All rental properties need a detailed tenancy agreement between the tenant and the landlord. The details in such agreements may differ depending on each situation, but there are some basics that should always be included.
As with most aspects of your let, your letting agent will be able to advise you on the content of your rental agreement. They may even either provide a template or do the work for you. However, you are the one signing along with the tenant, so you need to be aware of its contents and ensure that it covers exactly, every point you want to be legally binding.
The first elements that the agreement will need to include are the names of all those involved, contact details for the landlord, or their letting agents, and the address of the property being let. It also needs to include the rental amount, when it is due and how it is to be paid. Information on when the rent will be reviewed should also be included.
There need to be details regarding the deposit, including the amount and how it will be protected. Information about how and when the deposit will be returned, and what will happen in the event of damage to the property are also to be included. Other information usually relates to the obligations of both the landlord and the tenant and a list of bills that the tenant is responsible for. Take extreme caution with contracts, as there is being a real crackdown on contracts that are unfair to tenants.
Tenant Fees Act
All properties require a property deposit to secure against damage to the property and non-payment of bills by tenants. Such deposits used to be held by landlords or their agents for the term of the tenancy, but changes in the law mean that they now need to be handled differently.
The Tenant Fees Act came into place this year. However, new landlords may not be aware of this. It’s important to get up to speed on this quickly. This new rule means that landlords can only request five weeks of deposit for renewed and new tenancies. The only exception is if yearly rent is more than £50,000, in which case, six weeks can be taken.
When signing a rental agreement, it is normal practice for the tenant to be asked for rent in advance and a deposit. The amount of the deposit can vary, but it is usually equivalent to at least one month’s property rent. If you are moving with pets, there may be an additional amount to cover pet damage or the risk of a flea infestation to the accommodation. The deposit for long or short term lets were once held by the landlord or their appointed letting agent. However, they must now be placed with one of three government-backed deposit protection schemes.
The deposit must be registered with one of these schemes within 30 days of being handed to the landlord or letting agent. To access the money at the end of the letting term both parties must agree on how the money needs to be split, if at all. If there is no agreement, then further action can be taken on either side in the knowledge that the money remains safe. Once an agreement has been reached the money needs to be returned to the tenant within 10 days. There is, of course, no benefit to the landlord of delaying this, as it would also delay any money they are entitled to from the deposit.
Social media gives rise to negligent landlords being named and shamed
Rental properties are growing in popularity and therefore the need for properties is on the increase. It is important to make sure that your property is ready to house prospective tenants before you begin to market it. Follow this quick guide to help you let your property quickly.
Before placing your property with letting agents, you need to ensure that the property meets current regulations and safety standards for letting. This includes having the boiler serviced, making sure fire exits are clear and that the property offers a reasonable standard of living and does not cause ill health. This involves checking for mould, damp and other hazards.
You need to ensure that the property is clean and free from infestation before new tenants arrive. This should be relatively easy if it is a vacant lot; however, it may be more difficult if you have existing tenants. It is important that they know what is expected of them at the end of their tenancy.
You should also take the time to make repairs to the flat, apartment or house, and freshen up its appearance in needed. As well as creating a better living environment this will aid you in finding tenants more quickly. Getting your property ready is not just about the inside, don’t forget to tidy any garden areas or communal spaces such as hallways; these create the first impression of the property. Finally make sure all keys are in your possession before handing the property over to the next tenant.
The election repercussions
Before 2020 comes, we will know the results of the UK Elections. This is bound to have an impact on the letting sector in the UK. The way in which this has an impact is still very much up in the air. After all, if Labour wins, we will have another referendum, and Brexit could be in jeopardy. If Conservatives win, then we will push Brexit forward.
Both scenarios will have an impact on the rental market in the UK, and so this is something that all landlords need to be prepared for, and tenants as well for that matter.
Increase in Multiple Occupation properties
Letting often takes the form of a room within a house that is occupied by a number of different people. This is different from having a self-contained flat within a building, and is covered by different regulations, depending on its size and the number of occupants.
The official definition of a HMO or House in Multiple Occupation is one that has three or more tenants that form more than one household, and where certain facilities are shared. These are generally the bathroom, toilet or kitchen facilities. Additionally, where the property is three storeys, or more and has five tenants living there and forming more than one household, with similar shared facilities, the property is considered a large HMO.
All properties considered large HMOs require a licence from your local council; it is at the council’s discretion as to where other HMOs require a licence. As the landlord of such a property you have certain responsibilities.
If the property is licensed, you will be responsible for installing smoke detectors. For all HMOs landlords need to take on responsibility for annual gas safety checks and 5-year checks of the electrics. You need to ensure that there are cooking and washing facilities that are adequate for the number of tenants and that the communal areas are, safe, clean and in good repair. You are also responsible for ensuring that the property is not overcrowded and that there are enough rubbish receptacles. While your letting agents may advice you on all these points the legal responsibility remains with you.