Breaking news this morning following the leak last week – the government has published their Levelling Up White Paper – and the impact of matters contained within could shake up the private rented sector and have far reaching implications on landlords and tenants alike.

What is a White Paper?

A “White Paper” is a policy document published by the government which sets our their intentions for future legislation. White papers form the basis of discussion and consultation before the final bill(s) are put forward before government to be voted into law.

What is the purpose of the Levelling Up White Paper?

The purpose of this document is to bring about system change across both the Government and the country. The White Paper sets out the changes required, and how these will be implemented to “level up” the UK. The paper contains 12 national missions that are to be completed by 2030, and are quantifiable allowing them to be tested and measured.

How does this apply to landlords?

There are three main elements within the White Paper that will affect landlords: The introduction of a “Decent Homes Standard”, the introduction of a National Landlord Register and the abolition of the Section 21 Eviction Notice.

The Decent Homes Standard

Homes in the private rented sector will need a meet a mimumum standard known as the “Decent Homes Standard”. There is nothing new about this standard, and you can find information about it by clicking here. We are in support of this government move, as decent landlords will not be affected, only those who do not maintain their properties and protect their tenants.

The National Landlord Register

There is minimal information provided within the White Paper on this proposal so we will be tentatively waiting for further details to be released. There is likely to be a minimum standard or accreditation to join the register, or it may be that landlords can avoid registration by using a registered letting agent such as ourselves. If you would like more information about our services, please do get in touch.

The Abolition of the Section 21 Notice

The abolition of the Section 21 notice has been under discussion for a number of years, but its inclusion in the White Paper shows that the implementation is moving closer. The idea behind the abolition is to prevent landlords from evicting tenants with no formal reason – hence the Section 21 procedure is known as the “no fault eviction”.

Giving tenants more security should not be seen as a bad thing given the number of “rogue” landlords operating in the UK, however in our opinion, a sharp reform of the remaining eviction process “known as the “Section 8″ procedure” needs to be completed before the loss of the Section 21. At the very least, the process needs to be shortened and simplified, with additional grounds added and all grounds to be made mandatory. We simply cannot be placed in a position where landlords cannot regain possession of their property when there is a genuine requirement to do so.

What Happens Next?

According to Government officials, £4.8 billion has be commiteed to this project and its implementation although there are some doubts over the contents of the paper and the ambitiousness of the 12 national missions with regards to funding. The next step will be for the contents of the paper to be discussed and debated, until a draft bill is produced ready to be put forward before Government and eventually enacted into law.

Landlords from the UK who choose to live abroad can enjoy living their dream lives in another country while enjoying a steady income flow from their rental property. However, there exist some challenges you’ll face acting as a long-distance landlord. Difficulty communicating and the inability to meet tenants in person are just some of the challenges you may face. Also, if a tenancy ends while still abroad, landlords are left with the singular choice of asking someone else to carry out viewings for them.

For these reasons, landlords who live abroad prefer using a letting agency to manage their property while they live their lives undisturbed abroad. Are you an international landlord? Are you planning to become one soon?

This write-up will discuss some 4 tips to help make the letting process the easiest for you. Sit back, relax, and read on!

Get to Know Your Legal Responsibilities

All rental property owners in the UK are required to pay tax on the rental income. As an international landlord, you are no exception. The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) consider you a ‘non-resident landlord’ if you live out of the UK for 6 months or more in a year. However, this won’t be your case if you live outside the UK only temporarily, i.e. less than 6 months in a year.

You can pay your tax by taking out an essential tax rate from the rents or better still by using a Self-Assessment form for tax return. Payment can be done by a tenant or a letting agent. At the end of each year, the agent will provide you with a certificate. If you do not wish to do this, you will need to join the “Non-resident landlord (NRL) scheme. More information is available by clicking here.

Carry Out Screening through Skype

Meeting tenants one on one before accepting their rental application has proven to be one of the greatest challenges faced by landlords who live abroad. This of course won’t be a problem if you choose to use a letting agent. However, determining whether or not a tenant is the right person for your property without seeing them can be difficult. To help solve this problem, consider using Skype, Zoom, or any other video conferencing platform to discuss with tenants before deciding to accept or decline their rental application.

Give Priority to Long-Term Tenants

Administrative demands are higher for shorter tenancies than longer ones. Also, landlords are more likely to develop stronger bonds with long-term tenants. This helps take away much anxiety concerning how your property is being treated.  

Consider Using a Property Management Agency

The best and simplest way to avoid any headaches with regards to managing your property from abroad is to have someone else do it for you. Most landlords have found this to be the best way to live a stress-free life abroad.

A trustworthy and reputable property management agency like us (SWR) can bear the burden for you. We take care of everything from collecting rent from tenants to ensuring that you pay just the right amount of rental tax as you should normally pay.

Guidance has now been produced by the government relating to the upcoming Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020. Originally included in the Housing and Planning Act of 2016, this is now a standalone piece of legislation. We have been aware that this particular piece of legislation was coming for several years and it is actually very welcome. Most landlords are very keen to ensure their properties are safe, but there are the minority that are not.

There will now be a legal obligation and not just a moral obligation to ensure that your rental property is safe and to the standards contained in the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’, which are published as British Standard 7671.

So, what do the regulations mean for landlords?

If you love reading legislation, you can review the actual legislative document by clicking here. If not, read on to read a summarised version of what is required.

  1. For all new tenancies starting on or after 1st July 2020, the landlord must obtain, and provide to the tenant within 28 days, a satisfactory DEICR (Domestic Electrical Installation Condition Report) – also known as a “Fixed Wire Test”.
  2. This requirement will be rolled out to ALL tenancies from 1st April 2021.
  3. The certificate must be carried out by a qualified and competent electrician. Further information relating to qualification of electricians is available by clicking here to visit the NICIEC website.
  4. The certificate will last for 5 years, and therefore must be repeated prior to expiry.
  5. Where remedial work is required, this must be carried out within 28 days, or sooner if deemed necessary by the qualified electrician carrying out the test.
  6. The certificate must be provided to the tenant prior to moving into the property, similar to the Gas Safety Certificate.
  7. You must retain a copy of the report to provide to the electrician prior to the next test.

What parts of the property are included under the test?

The ‘fixed’ electrical areas in the property, starting with the RCD board (also known as a fuse board) and including the wiring, the plug sockets, the light fittings and any hard wired items such as showers, extractor fans or ovens.

How is remedial work classified?

Within the report, remedial work is classified into the following groups:

C1 = Danger present. Risk of injury. The electrical inspector may make any C1 hazards safe before leaving the property.

C2 = Potentially dangerous.

FI: Further investigation required without delay.

C3 = Improvement recommended. Further remedial work is not required for the report to be deemed satisfactory.

A test with any C1, C2 or FI observations will be deemed unsatisfactory.

When the remedial works are complete, the landlord must supply written confirmation to the tenant within 28 days.

What type of properties does the new law apply to?

Any property where the tenant lives as their primary residence will be covered by the legislation. This includes agreements such as Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST’s), licences to occupy and company lets.

Social housing, lodgers, those on a long lease of 7 years or more, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices, and other accommodation relating to healthcare provisions are not included.

If you have a property that was built in the last 5 years (or completely re-wired) it should have a current Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC). This will last for 5 years, at which point it must be re-tested. However, you must make sure that the EIC includes all installations within the property, not just one area.

What happens if remedial works are not carried out?

The local enforcement authority may serve upon the landlord a remedial enforcement notice legally requiring them to carry out remedial works. If they do not comply with the notice, the enforcement authority may proceed with the work and charge the landlord for the works, and their costs in administering them.

In addition to this, a fine of up to £30,000 may be given to the landlord for the breach. Should a tenant be injured or killed due to an uncertified and faulty electric installation, the landlord may find criminal charges are applied against them.

What about tenancy renewals?

If your tenancy expires after the 1st July 2020 and you provide the tenant with a new tenancy agreement (also known as a fixed term renewal or extension), just must ensure that you have a certificate in place and it is provided to the tenant prior to this document being signed.

If your tenancy expires after 1st July 2020 and it turns into a contractual periodic tenancy (it is written into the agreement that after the fixed term, the agreement will turn into a monthly tenancy) you do not need a certificate until 1st April 2021, however, if you do not have one, it is advisable to get one as soon as possible.

If your tenancy expires after 1st July 2020 and it turns into a statutory periodic tenancy (nothing is written into the agreement), you will need a certificate in place and provided to the tenant prior to the end of the current tenancy. This is because the change of tenancy type from fixed term to statutory periodic constitutes a “new tenancy” in law.

For further information or help with this new legislative requirement, please do not hesistate to get in touch with us. We can arrange for you to have a DEICR carried out by local, trusted electricians at the following cost:

1-4 Bedrooms: £210 including VAT

4+ Bedrooms: £234 including VAT

Communal Areas of Leasehold Apartments (Landlord Supply): By Quote

If you don’t know what the Tenant Fees Act 2019, or the “Tenant Fee Ban” is – then I suggest you go to THIS POST first and a have a read through.

This piece of legislation came into force on 1st June 2019, and applied to all tenancies signed on or after that date.

However, included in the legislation was the provision that the requirements would be rolled out to ALL tenancies on 1st June 2020 – something that has now taken place.

Regardless of what is contained in your current tenancy agreement (and if created in the last 12 months, it should really be “fee ban” compliant, from last Monday (1st June 2020) landlords or agents are not allowed to charge tenants for anything other than the following:

Rent (but this must be kept at the same level, or higher, throughout the duration of the fixed term. If it is decreased, the additional amount during the months prior to the increase will be seen as a prohibited payment.

Security Deposit (This is now capped at 5 weeks rent, and not a penny over, regardless of circumstances i.e. pets. Deposit calculators are widely available online, and the the following calculation must be used: (Monthly rent x 12/52 x 5). This cap is increased to six weeks rent for properties with an annual rent of over £50,000.

Holding Deposit (there are many regulations around the acceptance of a holding deposit, which I may need to go into further detail on a separate post. However the main points are that it is capped at 1 weeks rent, and it must be returned to the tenant save for four explicitly stated sets of circumstances .)

Change of tenancy Charge (a charge can be made when the tenant requests a change to the tenancy, such as the addition of a permitted occupier, or the change of a rent date. This charge is capped at £50 including VAT).

Late Rent Charge (this is one is pretty laughable and likely not worth even thinking about. You cannot charge for late rents, chasing letters, visits. The only charge you can make is an interest charge of 3% over the BOE base rate, after the rent is more than 14 days late).

Replacement keys/security device (Self explanatory, but you can only charge the cost of the replacement key or device, not for your time.)

Early Termination (If the tenant would like to leave a contract early, you can charge to cover your costs. However, if you are not using an agent, you are not permitted to charge them for re-referencing the new replacement tenants. They are also expected to pay rent and utilities up until the day before a replacement tenant moves in).

Breach of tenancy (If the tenant breaches any part of the agreement, you can seek to recover your costs from them, either directly or through the security deposit).

If you would like help or advice on anything relating to the Tenant Fee Ban/Tenant Fees Act 2019, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Flats, Houses & Homes to rent in Bristol - South West Relo

SWR can help you find a property that is best for you - whether you are looking for Homes, houses, or flats to rent in Bristol.

For flats, houses &  homes to rent, Bristol has a great selection. SWR is a well-established, professional letting agency with the most extensive selection of quality properties to rent in Bristol.

Finding a place to live can be a stressful task, especially in a big city like Bristol. SWR can help you find out which property is the best for you whether you are looking for houses to rent Bristol or flats to rent Bristol we are here to offer the most comprehensive and personalised and “stress-free” services. SWR is here to listen to your requirements and we take pride in providing outstanding customer service. We want to help you find your next home and we’ll guide you through the process so that the experience is enjoyable and exciting.