The Private Rented Sector:
“Looking back on the last decade, it’s safe to say that the landscape of landlording has changed significantly. Although no one can predict what will happen in the coming year in this fast-moving industry, one thing we know for sure is that legal changes affecting landlords will continue.
This is the year that landlords must realise the industry has changed, they must act and think professionally. Those who keep abreast of changes and take the time to treat their buy-to-let property, or portfolio of properties, as a business, can still prosper. Look at your investment, is it paying? Yes, there’s no doubt it is more challenging, but demand for rental properties remains strong, people need somewhere to live. The focus should be on finding great tenants who take care of your property, pay rent on time and wish to stay.
More importantly, now that the political stalemate has ended, the government will be keen to push forward with previously raised policies. If you are struggling to keep up to speed with legislation, make sure you put a price on your time and pass your property onto a reputable letting agent to fully manage it for you.
Three changes we already know about include phased mortgage relief coming into full effect, meaning landlords will no longer be able to offset their mortgage payments against their rental income. In April, landlord’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards will broaden to existing tenancies. This means, that if a landlord’s property is currently rated at ‘F’ or ‘G’, it will no longer be rentable from the 1st of April 2020. We may also see the introduction of mandatory five-year electrical installation checks on private rented housing in England.
However, I think the biggest and most concerning change for landlords this year will be the abolition of Section 21. We are yet to learn the full details of what changes the government plans to make to Section 8 in order to protect landlords, but we do know that without a court system equipped to cope with the vast increase in hearings, problem tenants will be able to remain in situ for longer, leaving those affected suffering even longer.
This January, there are also two very important Court of Appeal cases for Right to Rent and Gas Safety. The results will likely decide whether legislation is changed. I was not a fan of Right to Rent when it was brought in. I believe it caused landlords unnecessary checks and caused discrimination to tenants. If you look at the results of the enforcement of Right to Rent, it is very poor. In addition, the impact of landlords not serving a Gas Safety certificate prior to a tenant moving in meaning they CAN NOT serve a Section 21 notice, is having a massive affect, and the court of appeal case deals with this issue. We wait with bated breath.
As Brand Ambassador for Hamilton Fraser, as well as my day-to-day work with Landlord Action, I am busier than ever. However, my focus this year will be to keep abreast of all these possible changes, use our data to advise the government on workable solutions and, through my campaigns, seminars and workshops, educate landlords and agents on how best to protect themselves.
I will also be filming a 6th Series of Channel 5’s ‘Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords’ which will air later in the year.”