News

27 November 2018
A year of change in the Private Rental Sector

A year of change in the Private Rental Sector

January

  • The introduction of E-signatures - Andrew Louis introduces electronic signature signing which has accelerated the speed of our sales and lettings and has enhanced client convenience
  • Letting fee ban- The government has told NALS that implementation of the ban on letting agents’ fees levied on tenants will not take place before spring 2019 at the earliest.
  • Electronic Payment Changes- January 13th 2018 brought about new changes to electronic payment policies in England and Wales. The result of this is that if a landlord or letting agent takes rent or a deposit payment using debit cards, credit cards, phone payments or electronic payments such as PayPal, they are no longer allowed to add a sub-charge for using that method.

February

  • Liverpool Landlord fined for operating unlicensed property- A Landlord has been hit with a total bill of almost £1,300 after being found guilty at Magistrates court of managing a property without a compulsory licence.
  • RLA backs attempts to overturn Right to Rent migrant checks - The Residential Landlords Association has reiterated its opposition to Right To Rent, and is backing two legal challenges to the measure.
  • Agents who say ‘No DSS tenants’ may be acting unlawfully -  Letting agents who act on landlords’ instructions to refuse tenants claiming benefits may be breaking the law.   A legal case recently found in favour of a tenant who won compensation from an agency that refused to consider her as a tenant.

March

  • Our MD Louis Anastasiou appointed Chairman of Landlord Advisory Panel- The panel is made up of officers from Liverpool City Council's Housing Strategy and Public Protection teams, and up to 20 private landlords and letting agents.
  • Buy to let mortgages - The tightening of required rental interest cover by mortgage lenders is having an impact especially those landlords with high levels of gearing although the continued availability of extremely low 2, 3, 5 and 10 year fixed rates continues to offset this.
  • Residential sales in Liverpool – The sales market has picked up in the first quarter of 2018 although some buyers are making lower offers in the belief that the slowdown in price inflation and uncertainly over Brexit may allow them to buy at a cheaper level.

April

  • Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards - In April 2018, the Government put Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in place, which should be adhered to by all new tenancies. This means that every property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating that falls below E can no longer be leased out to tenants. This includes any extensions and renewals of existing tenancies.
  • Banning Order - In every industry there’s a small band of rogues who don’t like to play by the rules. The rental industry is no different, which is why in April 2018, the Government launched new banning orders against landlords or lettings agents who have committed an offence such as illegally evicting a tenant, failing to comply with a HHSRS notice or harassing an occupier. 
  • Further cuts to mortgage tax relief for landlords - The start of the new 2018-19 tax year on April 6 saw further reductions in the amount of tax relief landlords can claim on mortgage interest payments.Its dropped to 50% and will hit 25% in 2019-20, before being eliminated altogether. At the same time, a 20% tax credit is being phased in.
  • Gas Safety- Back in April, the government called for gas safety regulations to be amended in England and Wales, giving landlords greater flexibility when obtaining a gas safety check.

May

  • The Ban on Letting Agents Fees- On Tuesday 2 May 2018 the Government introduced the Tenant Fees Bill to Parliament.
  • GDPR comes into force- The change in GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)officially came into effect on the 25th May 2018. In short, it requires landlords and letting agents to audit and safeguard tenants’ personal information based on their consent. 
  • BBC research reveals concerns over rise in older renters - Older people aged 40 and above are now almost twice as likely to be renting their home from a private landlord than 10 years ago, according to BBC research.

June

  • How to Rent Booklet - A new version of the How to Rent Guide was published in January, with a recent update in June (England only). It’s essential that Landlord and letting agents give this guide to any assured short-hold tenants whose tenancy began on or was renewed by 26th June this year.
  • Client Money Protection for Agents set to be Mandatory –From 1 April 2019, all property agents carrying out work in relation to housing in England will be required to be a member of a mandatory client money protection scheme.
  • 40% of Landlords switching to Limited Companies - Latest research from a specialist lender claims that over the next twelve months almost 40% of landlords will be mortgaging BTL properties as limited companies, with only 26% of BTL acquisitions being made by individuals.

July

  • Why landlords should look to Liverpool for the best buy-to-let returns – According to research by comparison website TotallyMoney, which looked at 580,000 properties across England, Scotland, and Wales to find the areas that offer the highest buy-to-let yields, three postcodes in Liverpool are among the top 10 most profitable locations for landlords.
  • Landlord Seminar- Louis Anastasiou is guest speaker at Kirwans Solicitors Landlord Seminar at Avenue HQ, Mann Island.  
  • Liverpool Landlord is jailed- A landlord who tried to evict an elderly tenant from a rundown flat in Wavertree through a campaign of harassment has been jailed for three months – in the first case of its kind brought by Liverpool City Council.

August

  • Interest rates go up - After much speculation The Bank of England has raised interest rates from 0.5% to 0.75%
  • Right to Rent legal challenge date set for December Thegovernment’s controversial Right to Rent scheme, which forces landlords to undertake immigration checks on prospective tenants, is to be challenged in the High Court in December.
  • Majority of landlords ‘remain positive about the future’ of BTL sector – Morethan half of UK landlords are now feeling optimistic about the existing buy-to-let environment, and the opportunity it presents. The industry currently faces a number of challenges following several changes over the past couple of years, including a taxation policy that appears to penalise private landlords.

September

  • The Tenant Fee Ban reaches the House of Lords– The controversial Bill that will ban most charges set by landlords and letting agents to tenants in England has started its journey through the upper chamber.
  • Managing agent hit with a £4K bill- A Liverpool managing agent has been hit with a total bill of almost £4,000 and a criminal record after pleading guilty at Magistrates’ Court to renting out 12 private sector properties without a compulsory licence.
  • Liverpool’s thriving property market - Liverpool’s property market is set to reach a value of £1 billion this year, according to new analysis, as the total spent on house sales has more than doubled since 2012. The report, from property data and technology provider Search Acumen, found the value of housing transactions in Liverpool reached £996 million in 2017, up by 124 per cent from £552 million just five years ago.

October

  • Liverpool City Council Landlord Forum-  Louis Anastasiou makes a presentation on ‘How to choose the right letting Agents’ at the  Landlord Forum in the town hall
  • Changes in HMOs-  From 1 October 2018, significant changes are being made to which HMOs are licensable and minimum room sizes in HMOs in England. The 3 storeys element is being removed meaning that any HMO occupied by 5 or more individuals (not all related to one another) will require an HMO licence.
  • New eviction rules - from 1 October all fixed term assured shorthold tenancies in England will be subject to new rules under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 - which details the procedures and processes landlords must undertake when they want to evict tenants and gain possession of their property

November

  • Government unveils proposals for new Housing Court-The Government is seeking views on the creation of a specialist Housing Court to provide a single path to raise issues and settle disputes for agents, landlords and tenants.
  • Buying a Liverpool property is cheaper than renting - Renting a property in Liverpool is slightly  more expensive than buying according to the research by MyVoucherCodes. The average monthly rent is £692 compared to average monthly mortgage of £684.
  • The Liverpool BTL sector remains a ‘solid investment option’ - While the BTL industry has undergone radical change over the past couple of years, with several tax changes impacting many landlords, prompting some investors to quit the sector, the reality is that the Liverpool  buy-to-let remains a ‘solid investment’, according to our MD Louis Anastasiou
  • Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill - This Bill has a second reading in the House of Lords and is likely to become law in the second half of 2019.  it will ensure that all landlords must ensure that their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout and, where this is not done, the tenant will have the right to take legal action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for human habitation.
  • The Tenant Fee Ban (TFB)- TFB has passed its second reading through the house of lords, it will go to reports on the 5th December and the current advice is that the Tenant Fee Ban will become a reality for agents across England, from April 2019

December

  • Government cut tenant deposit cap to five weeks- As part of the Tenant Fees Bill the Government has announced a lowering of the amount tenants will have to pay up front for a tenancy from 6 to 5 weeks’ rent. It will only apply to properties where the annual rent is less than £50,000.
  • NALS help stamp out rogue agents - To help local authorities tackle rogue letting agents, TheNational Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) published the latest version of our Effective Enforcement Toolkit. Originally published in 2016, NALS created the Toolkit as a unique way to assist local authority enforcement officers in tackling agents who fail to comply with the law. The step-by-step guide provides councils with a guide to regulating agents.
     

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