Breaking News – Lettings Agents Fees To Be Banned

Lettings agents in England will be banned from charging fees to tenants “as soon as possible” under plans announced in the Autumn Statement.

Mr Hammond said he would take aim at the charges letting agents can levy on tenants for services such as administration and referencing.  The government believes the ban – to be brought in “as soon as possible” following a consultation – will help millions of households in private rented housing by sparing them what can amount to “hundreds of pounds in fees”

We have seen these fees spiral, often to hundreds of pounds,” Mr Hammond said.  “This is wrong.  Landlords appoint letting agents and landlords should meet their fees.”

But how will this affect Landlords and tenants moving forward?

If the costs are levied at landlords, will rents increase therefore tenants could well end up footing the bill anyway?

Will it drive up competition from potential tenants there the demand could be higher and rents may increase?

Thomas Crouch, Lettings Manager for Crucible Sales and Lettings said “I think that the announcement in the autumn statement that letting agents will be banned from charging tenant fees, will encourage more tenants to rent properties. I especially think this will entice first time tenants, such as younger people leaving their family home as the upfront costs for moving into the property will be reduced.

However I don’t believe this will be a good idea in the long run. In my opinion, I think that this will cause letting agents to increase the fees that they charge landlords, to compensate for the loss of income from tenant fees. Then in turn landlords will naturally want higher rents for their properties to cover the cost of the rising agent fees. This will end up costing tenants more in the long run, than having to pay agents fees would have in the first place.

Letting agents do need to be paid for the mainly administrative work done to move tenants in. I think it would have made more sense for the government to put a cap on fees charged to tenants, instead of banning them all together.”

Are you a landlord and have questions on how this might affect you?

Are you a tenant wondering if this will have an affect on you over the course of a tenancy?

Give Crucible Sales and Lettings a call today to discuss your lettings requirements on 01709 300333

 

Landlords – The importance of having an annual gas safety check on your tenanted property.

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This blog focuses on the importance of having an up to date annual landlord’s gas safety check on your property.   The law requires this to be done annually whilst you have a tenancy in place.

If it is not done and you allow the certificate to expire then you are putting lives at risk and breaking the law. HSE gives gas safety a high priority and will take the appropriate action to ensure compliance with the regulations; this could result in a substantial fine and/or a custodial sentence.

It really is that serious.

If you let a property equipped with gas appliances, you have three main responsibilities:

  1. Maintenance: pipework, appliances and chimney/flues need to be maintained safely. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the frequency given in the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available, you should ask a Gas Safe registered engineer to service them annually.
  2. Gas safety checks: An annual gas safety check should be carried out on each gas appliance/flue. This will ensure gas appliances and fittings are safe to use. There is a legal requirement on you to have all gas appliances safety checked by a registered engineer annually and you also need to maintain gas pipework and flues in a safe condition. This is UK law.
  3. Record: A record of the annual gas safety check should be provided to your existing tenants within 28 days of completion, or to new tenants upon the start of their tenancy. If the rental period is less than 28 days at a time you may display a copy of the record in a prominent position within the dwelling. You’ll need to keep copies of the record for at least 2 years.

Some landlord/tenant relationships can become problematic, and tenants may refuse to give you access to the property. If this is the case, you should have a previously drawn up agreement with the tenant allowing you access to the property to ensure any maintenance or safety work is carried out. You’ll have to take (and demonstrate that you have taken) all ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure the work is carried out – this can involve giving a tenant notice. If a tenant does refuse access, be sure to keep a record of any action taken as you may need this at a later date. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations do not give powers to ‘force disconnection’ of the gas supply in these circumstances and you may need to seek legal advice.

I once again stress that if you are a landlord and you wish to carry out your own landlords gas safety check then please make sure that it has been done before the expiry of the latest one.  There is no “cooling off period”.   It is also your responsibility to evidence that you have tried all possible ways of getting access to the property if the expiry date passes and there is a gap between the checks.

Should you wish Crucible to take over the management of your gas safety checks then please contact Dawn Watts (Property Manager) who would be more than happy to undertake this for you.

d.watts@cruciblesalesandlettings.co.uk – 01709 300333

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Landlords Legislation

Landlords – Are you compliant?

Alex Byard is a regular blogger for Taylor&Emmet specialising in landlord and tenant issues. In this article she explains the most recent rules and regulations that have come into effect for landlords…

1. Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force 1 October 2015. These impose obligations on private landlords in England to provide carbon monoxide detectors in their rental properties.

The purpose of the Regulations is to reduce the number of injuries or deaths from smoke or carbon monoxide poisoning in the private rental sector. Under the new Regulations, a smoke alarm must be installed on each storey of the premises that are wholly or partly used as living accommodation. A carbon monoxide alarm must also be installed in any room that is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.

The landlord must also ensure that the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in proper working order at the start of a new tenancy (a new tenancy being a tenancy granted on or after 1 October 2015).

If landlords fail to comply with the new Regulations, the local Housing Authority must serve a Remedial Notice, specifying the premises to which the Notice relates; details of the breach and the remedial action required. You must either comply with the Notice or make written representations against the Notice within 28 days.

If you fail to comply with the Notice, the Housing Authority must arrange for an authorised person to carry out remedial action. If you fail to comply, fines can be up to £5,000.00.

2. Changes to Section 21 Notices

In order to gain lawful possession of the premises from your tenant, there are certain steps that are required. The first is to send a Notice upon your tenant advising you require the premises back. This will be either under Section 8 or Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (commonly referred to as “Section 8” or “Section 21” Notices).

The new Regulations, the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 will apply to assured shorthold tenancies (“AST”) granted on or after 1 October 2015. They will not apply to a fixed-term AST granted prior to 1 October 2015, even if the fixed-term AST becomes a statutory periodic tenancy.

The Regulations will, however, apply to all ASTs from 1 October 2018.

A new prescribed form must be used (Form 6a). This new form cannot be served upon a tenant unless the landlord has provided the tenant with:

a. any due performance certificate free of charge;
b. a gas safety certificate;
c. a copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government booklet, “How to Rent: the Checklist for Renting in England”.

The Regulations provide that the new Section 21 Notice cannot be used where:

a. the tenant has resided in the property for less than four months;
b. the landlord is prevented from retaliatory eviction;
c. the landlord has not protected the deposit under a Debt Tenancy Deposit Scheme;
d. the property requires a licence, but it is unlicensed;
e. the landlord has not complied with the new Regulations (as set out above).

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3. Right to Rent

From 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England will have to check that new tenants have the right to be in the United Kingdom, before renting out the property. This will be known as the “Right to Rent”.

Under the new Rules, landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s “right to rent” will face penalties of up to £3,000.00 per tenant.

If you fall into one of the following categories, you will need to make “right to rent” checks if you:

a. are a private landlord;
b. have a lodger;
c. are sub-letting a property;
d. are an agent appointed by a landlord to make the “right to rent” checks.

There are, however, some landlords who will not need to make the checks.

Under the “right to rent”, landlords should check identity documents for all new tenants and take copies. This should include the following:

a. check that adult tenants will live in the property as their own or only or main home;
b. ask tenants for the original documents that show they have the right to be in the United Kingdom;
c. check the documents are valid with the tenant present;
d. make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you make the check.

The Government has provided guidance as to what will be accepted as documentation to show that the tenant has the right to be in the United Kingdom. Acceptable documents include:

• United Kingdom passport
• EA passport
• identity card
• permanent residence card or travel documents showing indefinite leave to remain
• Home Office immigration status document
• certificate of registration or neutralisation as a British citizen

The introduction of new tenancy rules and regulations can be daunting, particularly for inexperienced landlords. If you need further guidance about legal changes affecting the rental property sector, always seek advice from a specialist solicitor.
If you are interested in finding out more about the topic of this blog, contact Alex on 0114 218 4289 or alex.byard@tayloremmet.co.uk.