As the October 1st deadline approaches landlords should be aware of significant changes that require their attention, with just one month to go.
The Deregulation Bill 2015, which ironically adds more regulations to the private rented sector (PRS), introduces measures which will restrict eviction of those tenants that can show so called “retaliatory eviction” is threatened, where necessary repairs have been reported.
Efficacious as this may seem there will inevitably be those who try to use this to their advantage and therefore landlords will need to have management strategies in place to stymie any attempt at this. We will be publishing some guidelines on this in the near future.
There will also be welcome changes to the section 21 notices which should simplify the process of serving a correct s21 notice. It should prevent the many errors which occur with this process which result in many eviction claims being thrown out because of technical defects in these notices, particularly wrong end dates.
Other changes mean that landlords and agents will need to provide current Gas Safety and Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) along with proof of timely deposit protection, correctly served s21 and deposit statutory notices, and of course the letting agreement itself. Those landlords with licensable HMOs will also need to show a current license is in place. There is the possibility that mandatory licensing will be extended to all shared accommodation in the near future.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are also the subject of the new legislation which comes into effect in October. See: Explanatory Memorandum to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
The latest Association of Residential Letting Agent’s (ARLA) Private Rented Sector (PRS) Report, which draws on data gathered by ARLA from 363 of its member agents between 2nd and 16th July 2015, has reported that between May and June, more than one-third (36%) of member letting agents reported rent rises. This is the highest number since ARLA started this service.
The highest concentration of rent increases occurred in the East Midlands and the lowest rate of increase was in Wales.
The report says that most agents feel that rent increases will continue over the next five years, with around 80% of agents of this view, that there was a slight reduction in the supply of rentals in June this year, and they were getting more enquiries for short-term lets. The average void period reported was three weeks.
You have to feel sorry for tenants in some locations where rents are very high, where there is little choice, and much of their income is taken up in rent payments. But this is an inevitable result of increasing demand for renting in an overcrowded market with a fixed supply. It’s not the fault of landlords that rent levels are high in these locations.
Part of the problem is a successful economy attracting increasing migration to “honey pots”, particularly London and the South-east. There’s no quick or easy solution to this demand-supply imbalance, but one thing is certain – rent control is not the answer. See our lead article for views on this topic.
Tom Entwistle, Editor