As we begin 2022, it’s important to look ahead and plan for any challenges the lettings industry may face.

In 2021, the lettings sector endured a year marked by the ending of the eviction ban and the stamp duty holiday, as well as changes to Right to Rent, new regulations for electrical safety standards and, more recently, plans to phase out gas boilers in rental properties by 2025.

With the above in mind, it’s fair to question what 2022 will bring. Below, we list the key dates and events that letting agents will need to consider and plan for in 2022 and beyond.

Early 2022: increasing Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards

Last summer saw the Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings Bill introduced into both houses of Parliament, building on the Government’s goal to achieve net-zero 2050. The Bill proposes that from April 2025, all new tenancies for private rented properties will require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above – up from the current E rating. From 2028, this increase will apply to all tenancies.

Currently, landlords of properties in EPC band F or G must fund energy efficiency improvements up to a cap of £3,500. However, this new legislation would also increase the capped amount from £3,500 to £10,000.

An analysis of the current EPC register for private rented homes by geospatial technology company Kamma suggests that 65% are below the target of grade C, compared to a national average of 58% – and it could cost £29 billion to improve these rental units.

Until plans are in place, agents should encourage landlords to consider long-term solutions for their rented properties and strive for a C rating rather than an E.

Unknown date 2022: Renters’ Reform Bill white paper to be published

After several delays and speculation, the Government will be issuing the white paper on reforming the private rented sector at some point in 2022, but an official date is still unknown. It was initially set to be released in autumn 2021 and will inform the content and layout of the Renters’ Reform Bill.

Proposals in the Renters’ Reform Bill include abolishing Section 21 eviction powers for agents and landlords, strengthening Section 8, introducing lifetime tenant deposits, and the potential introduction of a mandatory landlord register.

For now, letting agents and landlords need to ensure they remain compliant with the current guidelines while keeping an eye out for the long-awaited white paper.

February: Energy price cap set to increase

The anticipated energy price cap will be announced in February 2022, where the Government will reveal how much the cap will increase. This will take effect from April 2022, where energy bills will rise accordingly. With reports of soaring energy prices and collapsing providers, tenants are likely to be concerned about the implications of their current supplier going bust. They may need guidance from their agents during this period of uncertainty.

Letting agents will need to be aware of these dates to ensure you’re prepared to understand your tenants’ financial situations. 

You should also be prepared to support tenants with relevant information about the energy crisis and offer tips on better managing their energy consumption.

April 1: Temporary Right to Rent checks come to an end

The temporary measures to allow Right to Rent checks via video call and share photocopies or photos of documents will end in April 2022. But with the apparent success of the system, there was confusion and uncertainty among letting agents and landlords about what the system would look like post-Covid, with some questioning why video calls can’t be used in the long term.

In response, the Government has revealed that it is looking at ways to create a digital system for all checks, including British and Irish citizens. Retrospective checks to cover tenants who moved whilst checks weren’t taking place are also no longer required.

There is already a new digital process for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, who can access a share code to prove their right to rent, while rules for B5JSSK nationals have also been confirmed.

These are just a few fundamental laws that will impact agents and landlords over the next year. To prevent any surprises cropping up, letting agents will need to help landlords make informed decisions, stay on top of legislation and regulations, and remain compliant at all times.