It’s only mid-way through February, and already it looks like it’s going to be a busy year for landlords and letting agents alike.
Dog and Domestic Animals Bill
There’s a lot of conversation surrounding pets in the private rented sector.
Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell’s Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill has already passed it’s first reading and looks to continue the path to try and abolish no-pet clauses in private rental contracts.
The second reading is set to happen on the 26th February 2021. The Dogs and Domestic Animals Bill is being supported by a number of animal welfare charities including the RSPCA, and is being backed by 11 other MP’s including former Cabinet member Andrea Leadson, and ex-Lib Dem leader Tim Farron
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has rewritten the standard tenancy contract it recommends for agents and landlords, to include pet-friendly elements. If the standard contract is used, it will mean renters with pets will find it easier to obtain tenancies. However, tenants will still have a legal duty to repair or foot the bill of any damages caused to the property, so this will ensure landlords are still protected.
Expected end of 6-month notice periods
Since September 2020 due to the pandemic, landlords are currently legally obliged to give tenants six months’ notice, except in serious circumstances such as domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour, and more than six months’ of rent arrears. This also includes Section 21 notices.
Normal notice periods are expected to resume from March 31st 2021, but this date could be subject to change.
No more Stamp Duty holiday
On 8th July 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a temporary Stamp Duty holiday to help boost the market and to help buyers who have been affected by the coronavirus.
The change meant that buyers would only pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on properties above £500,000. Previously, the threshold for Stamp Duty payments was £125,000. It was estimated by the Government, that almost 9 out of 10 people buying a main home in 2020 would not be paying Stamp Duty.
The Stamp Duty changes have benefited first-time buyers the most, but landlords and property investors have also been eligible for the tax cut. The additional 3% that was charged still applies to second home buyers.
The Stamp Duty Holiday is due to end on 31st March 2021 when all rates and thresholds will return to normal.
Mandatory electrical reports for all tenancies
From 1st July 2020, Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) became a legal requirement for all new tenancies in England and Wales as part of the Government’s wider work to improve safety in the private rented sector.
From 1st April 2021, this requirement will extend to all tenancies, new and existing.
This work must be carried out by a ‘qualified and competent’ person, and if the report declares the property unsafe, remedial work must be carried out within 28 days. A copy of the report must be supplied to the tenant within 28 days, and to the Local Authority, if requested, within 7 days of the request.
Changes to Right to Rent
Presently, landlords must check all tenants’ immigration status to find out whether they can legally rent in the UK. This applies to all tenants, regardless of their background. In March last year, the government made some temporary changes to the Right to Rent checks to make it easier for landlords to carry them out. These changes included making checks by video call, and tenants being able to send scanned documents or photos of documents, instead of sending the originals.
A point-based system will be in place, due to Brexit, from 1st January 2021 and landlords have been told to continue using passports and national ID cards as an interim measure until 30th June 2021.
Possible abolition of Section 21
The scrapping of Section 21 was announced as part of the Renters Reform Bill last year. The bill also includes plans for lifetime tenancy deposits which are transferable from one property to another when a tenant moves.
Section 21 currently allows landlords to end tenancies through a ‘no-fault eviction’, for example if they wanted to sell the property, or move back into the property themselves. Normally, the period of notice is two months, however, there is a temporary minimum notice period of 6 months until 31st March 2021.
The Bill was put on hold due to the coronavirus. Whereas there are no set dates in place yet, Kelly Tolhurst, a minister at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told MP’s “We will introduce a renters’ reform Bill very soon.” When pressed further, she continued: “We are committed to abolishing no-fault evictions under Section 21”
And that’s just some of the changes expected this year!
Keeping track of every legal update and governmental change in the property sector can seem like a huge task, especially with the added stresses a global pandemic brings.
If you’re a landlord navigating these changes, and you’d like some help, or advice, feel free to contact me at Greentree Property Management.