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Changing times for tenants five things to look out for

Changing times for tenants – five things to look out for

Posted on 2018-08-20

The rental market has undergone significant change in recent years. More and more people are renting from private landlords and there's been a significant rise in the number of families and older people entering the Private Rented Sector (PRS). Not only that, but tenants are increasingly renting for the long-term due to various financial and lifestyle reasons.

 All of this means that the Government is paying closer attention to the PRS, making changes to ensure rules and regulations keep pace with rapid change and evolving demographics.

 Now is certainly a great time to be a renter. There is greater protection from rogue landlords and letting agents than ever before and growing focus on making living in the PRS as fair and affordable as possible.

 As things continue to change, here's five things you need to look out for over the coming months and years...

 Ban on upfront letting agent fees

 What is happening?

 As well as capping security and holding deposits, the Government is banning upfront fees charged by letting agents.

 This means agents will no longer be able to charge you with administration fees when you are in the initial stages of renting a property.

 What does it mean for you?

 The ban on upfront fees, as well as the deposit caps, will significantly reduce the initial cost of renting a property.

 There are fears that agents will pass on the cost of lost fees to landlords who will in turn increase rents. While this scenario is concerning for tenants, a ban has been in place in Scotland since 2012 and most research suggests it has not had a significant impact on average rents.

As more people rent for the long-term, it's important that tenants can secure a rental property fairly and affordably. This legislation will create a more level playing field and hopefully provide prospective tenants with a wider choice of properties to choose from.

Timeframe: The ban on upfront letting agent fees charged to tenants will be introduced from spring 2019 'at the earliest'.

Read more here.

Compulsory Client Money Protection scheme membership

What is happening?

It will soon be compulsory for letting agents to be a member of a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme.

These organisations allow consumers to claim for reimbursement of funds if their letting agent has stolen or misappropriated their money.

What does it mean for you?

This long-awaited legislation is fantastic news for tenants. It means that your money will be given greater protection and, in the event that your money is misappropriated or stolen, you will be covered.

When dealing with agents, it will be important for tenants to check that the company they are dealing with is a member of a CMP scheme. Those firms that aren't will be breaking the law and consumers shouldn't take the risk of dealing with them.

Compulsory CMP membership will hopefully contribute towards reducing the number of criminal letting agents operating in the market, encouraging a fairer and safer PRS for all.

Timeframe: Compulsory CMP membership for letting agents will become law from April 1 2019 

Read more here.

Mandatory electrical safety checks in rental properties

What is happening?

The Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire, has proposed that a mandatory requirement for electrical safety checks in privately rented properties is introduced.

It is expected that landlords or their letting agent will be required to ensure that electrical appliances and installations are inspected and checked every five years.

What does it mean for you?

If and when this requirement is introduced, it will provide tenants with further protection and the expectation that all appliances in their property are safe and in good working order.

It's pleasing that landlords will now be required to carry out electrical checks in a more uniform and frequent manner, while the interval of five years between checks reflects a tenant population staying in rental properties for longer.

Timeframe: This legislation is currently at consultation stage, with further details expected in the autumn.

Read more here.

Longer tenancies for private tenants

What is happening?

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is proposing introducing a minimum three-year private tenancy with a six-month break clause.

The tenancy would have stipulations for rent rises, notice periods and repossession. There will also be exemptions for tenancies which won't last three years, such as student rentals.

What does it mean for you?

Longer minimum tenancies could provide the growing number of family renters with increased security of tenure. They will also give tenants reassurance that they can treat their rental property as their home and feel more settled.

It's true that not all tenants will want three-year tenancies and this legislation could raise flexibility issues for some people. That said, the proposed six-month break clause and two-month notice period are intended to give tenants the opportunity to move on in the short-term if they want to. 

Timeframe: This legislation is currently at consultation stage, with further details expected over the coming months.

Read more here.

All rental properties to become more energy efficient

What is happening?

Earlier this year, rules were introduced meaning that landlords now have to ensure that rental properties have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of an E- when granting new tenancies.

This legislation is being extended to cover all existing tenancies to ensure that all rental properties are up to the required standard.

What does it mean for you?

This is great news for tenants who have been in a property for a long time and are still part of the same tenancy.

Homes which aren't energy efficient can make life difficult for tenants - the property could be unnecessarily cold in the winter, while energy bills are likely to be higher.

Timeframe: The extension of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards to existing tenancies will come into force in April 2020.

Read more here.

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