My Talk at the Landlord & Buy-to-Let Show in Coventry on Wednesday and Thursday this week was on the top 10 issues, as I see it, facing buy-to-let landlords in 2015.
We live in interesting times, so in the 12 years I’ve been speaking at landlord and property investor shows I don’t think I can remember a time when there were so many important legal and regulatory issues facing landlords, many of which have the potential to change the private residential rental market in a significant way.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all gone down or are going down the road of introducing “tenant friendly” changes to their housing regulation. Some of these changes may seem innocuous in nature, and indeed some will be an improvement, but by introducing layer upon layer of rules, regulations and red tape, and bringing in restrictions on how landlords can deal with bad tenants, not only makes the job of the landlord much more difficult, it will inevitably lead to some landlords leaving the rentals market.
So far the coalition government in England have resisted legislative changes on the grounds that introducing more red tape will simply discourage landlords from investing in much need new accommodation.
The English coalition government have so far restricted their changes to schemes introduced on a voluntary basis, designed to be more tenant friendly and transparent and backed by some form of redress when things go wrong.
This may be about to change however with today’s (28 November 2014) second reading of the Tenancies (Reform) Bill 2014-15. http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2014-15/tenanciesreform.html
If passed in its present form the Bill will bring in restrictions on when a landlord can evict a tenant.
Under the present section 21 (Housing Act 1988) process, all landlords have the option of a no blame eviction process if they serve a two-months’ notice and the tenancy term has come to an end.
This Bill is proposing restricting this right when a tenant has complained about a repair issue, effectively handing the decision as to if and when a tenant can be evicted into the hands of local authority housing officers.
Read the lead article in this issue “Is Revenge Really so Sweet” and consider contacting your MP or the housing minister Brandon Lewis MP to impress on them the landlord’s point of view on this matter.
The worry is that the more unscrupulous tenants will simply invent or create “repair issues” to avoid eviction and because housing officers simply don’t have the resources to service all the housing issues as it is, long bureaucratic delays will become the norm when landlords are trying to evict a genuinely bad tenant.
The salient issues I identified for the seminars, those which landlords ought to be fully on top of, were:
- Rental Deposits and the recent changes including serving notices again when a tenancy becomes periodic.
- The Immigration Bill, the “Right to Rent” Scheme, and the introduction of the Midlands pilot scheme from next Monday (1st of December).
- Energy Efficiency and the measures which landlords need to take before 2016 and 2018 when minimum energy efficiency standards are require for rental homes.
- Student Housing and the changes to the markets following a hike in student fees and more corporate investment in the market.
- The Changing High Street and how the retailing revolution is affecting property investment.
- Politics & Buy-to-Let and the current high profile political and media campaigns.
- The Changes and likely changes to Renting Laws following the general election next May.
- Revenge Evictions and the Tenancies (Reform) Bill 2014-15.
- Compulsory Licensing being introduced by some local authorities, and a landlord Registration schemes.
- The Mortgage Market Review (MMR), the EU mortgage credit directive and their effects on the buy-to-let mortgage market for landlords.
- Universal Credit and how it will affect those landlords dealing with Housing Benefit (DSS) tenants.
Some of the articles in this Newsletter Update issue, and many more on our website, cover these issues in detail, so I urge you to bring yourself up-to-date if you are involved in the business of letting out housing.
Tom Entwistle, Editor.