By Carl Agar

Hopefully you have all had time to digest part one of this quarter's update, so let's move on to part two!

We are on the one year countdown to the changes in laws around the energy performance of rental properties in which it will become illegal to let a property with an energy performance rating of an F or G. The minimum requirement of an E will be enforceable with fines of up to £4,000 for any Landlord found breaking with the new law. From the 1st of April 2018 there will be a ban on all new tenancies in properties with a rating of F and G and in April 2020 the ban will also include existing tenancies.

It's estimated that over 300,000 properties in the UK have a rating of F or G. There will be some exemptions but my advice to landlords is to start to understand the legislation now and start to plan any necessary works to ensure your property is compliant within plenty of time. Take a look at your existing EPC as there should be some recommendations on your report. Depending on your property type getting from an E to a D should be achievable at a relative low cost.

Moving onto the next steps for the housing act, the following came into force on the 6th of April 2017:

  • Extended Rent Repayment Orders of up to 12 months at the discretion of the local authority.
  • Housing enforcement officers can now issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 instead of prosecution in court. There will be strict guidelines they have to follow and it will normally follow non compliance of an enforcement notice.
  • Deposit schemes will now be sharing their data with local authorities who will be able to request data to aid enforcement activity.
  • Banning orders for letting agents and landlords. Local authorities can apply for an order to ban landlords and letting agents for a fixed period from engaging in letting activity.
  • A database of rogue landlords and letting agents who have received convictions or banning orders is now shared across local authorities and managed centrally by DCLG (the Department for Communities and Local Government)
  • A new abandonment process for landlords that believe their property has been abandoned has come into force. Landlords left with an empty property that they believe to be abandoned will be able to use a streamlined process without the necessity of seeking a court order for possession.

In short there isn't anything landlords have to worry about now unless they are breaking the law. My advice would be to brush up on the law and ensure you are operating in a compliant way. The new abandonment procedure is a welcome addition and will hopefully see landlords repossess their properties much quicker!

That’s it for this quarter's update!