Friday again – what news items do we have for you?
The Tenant Fees Act 2019
The tenant fees bill has now received the Royal Assent and is now the Tenant Fees Act 2019. It will not apply in Wales which is introducing its own legislation – likely to come into force in September.
The English Act will, as you are no doubt aware, prohibit most fees to tenants and cap tenancy deposits at five weeks rent for properties with an annual rent of less than £50,000 (£4,167 per month) and six weeks rent for properties with an annual rent of £50,000 or more. Holding deposits will be limited to 1 weeks rent and will be subject to strict rules regarding repayment.
We will be publishing more information about the act here once the government guidance has been published. The act will come into force on 1 June.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said:
This is part of our ongoing action to make renting fairer and more transparent and make a housing market that works for everyone.
ARLA will be running various events to explain the legislation to their members and David Cox will be taking our regular Landlord Law members monthly training webinar on 7 March.
Commenting on the act, David Cox said:
We’ve known the tenant fees ban has been coming for a long time, but with only 109 days to go until it comes into force, the industry must start taking time to prepare. The Government will soon publish its guidance now that we have legislative certainty, which will give agents a better understanding as to how the ban should practically be implemented.
Other government steps
The Government announcement contains a useful list of other reforms on the way:
- a national database of rogue landlords and agents to keep track of those that have been banned from letting (this is already in force)
- a comprehensive review of the rating system used by local authorities to assess the presence of serious risks to the health and safety of tenants
- mandatory client money protection – by which rental money held by letting agents is safeguarded against theft and fraud – for all agents
- a mandatory redress scheme for landlords
- an independent regulator to oversee letting agents, setting standards and maintaining minimum qualifications
- new, mandatory 5-yearly electrical installation safety inspections
- considering the case for a specialist housing court to provide greater access to justice for landlords and tenants in property disputes
A worrying story has been published which indicates that millions of Energy Performance Certificates could be wrong due to assessors incorrectly measuring properties due to poor training.
Which means that agents could be in breach of regulations by allowing inaccurate EPCs to be used on their listings and landlords could be failing to meet the minimum energy requirements introduced last April.
A report from the technology solution Spec found that one in 4 of EPCs recorded the size of the property so incorrectly that it varied by more than 10% from the true size. It seems that many EPCs use the reduced data standard assessment procedure which employs simple averages or standardised values rather than actual measurement of many features.
Anthony Browne, a senior advisor to Spec, said:
Our study reveals that it’s not really a case of if your EPC is measured inaccurately, but how much it is measured inaccurately.
Inaccurate EPCs present serious challenges and risks not only to property professionals, consumers and estate agents – but also the environment.
It means tens of thousands of landlords are unwittingly renting out their properties, opening them up to the risk of fines of thousands of pounds through no fault of their own.
Measuring the energy efficiency of buildings accurately is essential in limiting their environmental impact and tackling the bigger global issue of climate change. If you are not measuring the problem properly, you won’t tackle it effectively.
You are advised to ask assessors how many points of measurement are used in calculating areas of the property, how they measure complicated shapes and whether the raw data is captured by a RICS Certified Measurer or chartered surveyor.
Mind you, comments on the report on this on the Property Industry Eye page suggest that this is just a publicity exercise on the part of Spec and that landlords and agents should be safe if they show that they are using an accredited assessor.
- A report suggests that thousands of new homes could be delivered by developing vacant space in high streets. Which could also help increase footfall in these areas and support shops in the area.
- 24 Housing reports that rents are falling as a proportion of income
- A local report shows that housing in Cambridge is unaffordable for most people
- Letting agent mistakes tomato plans for illegal cannabis plants
- Camden is considering a total estate agency boards ban