A lot of news in a little month – here’s the latest from the property world

So it’s been a little while since my last update. Unfortunately I suffered an injury a few weeks ago that has prevented me from undertaking a lot of my normal day-to-day activities. But the good news is that I’m on the road to recovery. It’s been incredibly hard to sit back and take time out, however I have a fantastic team that I can both trust and rely on, who have held the fort until I get back to full capacity, so thanks to them.

There has been a lot happening in the big wide world of property rentals during the relatively short month of February. First up is the Local Government Association (LGA) looking to impose minimum fines of £30,000 on rogue landlords who repeatedly flout laws, regulations and commit housing offences that affect the standards of the private rental sector. Many national press outlets reported on the proposal, a proposal that was strengthened by English Housing Survey figures showing that 27% of privately rented homes failed to meet decent home standards in 2016. In my view this would be a good thing as rogue landlords give the industry a bad name and reputation.

Next up is the ever contentious issue of pets. As part of a policy on animal welfare, the Labour Party announced a proposal that included a point to directly address the rights of private tenants being allowed to keep pets. The current position is that many landlords choose to ban pets but the Labour Party seemingly want to remove that option; they think it should be a default right for tenants to be allowed pets. It’s an incredibly complex issue that has numerous permutations. Going back to the overarching reason for this suggested change, the welfare of the animals must be considered – along with the suitability of the property. Private landlords are continually under pressure to accommodate tenant requests, some with genuine validity. But this change could hugely impact landlords in the long term. Allowing pets in a short term let could affect their ability to re-let quickly. Standard of cleanliness are an obvious risk but with the fitness for human habitation act providing 29 tick boxes for hygiene and safety, there are plenty of reasons for landlords to object to pets being allowed. Richard Lambert of the National Landlords Association said: ‘You can’t take a blanket approach to keeping or refusing pets. The NLA has consistently supported schemes that encourage landlords to take on pet owners.’ Of course this is an issue for many landlords who are concerned about pets causing damage to their properties. However, in our experience, if we carefully vet the type of pet by analysing its breed and temperament, consider the tenants ability to look after the pet in a humane way and also take a pet deposit to cover any damage from the pet, then we can normally find some very good long term tenants who struggle to find landlords willing to accept pets.  

Towards the end of February, the BBC TV show Panorama aired a programme about no-fault evictions. Largely biased towards tenants, the programme showed examples of Section 21 no-fault evictions of private sector tenants. Not for the first time, the reliance on the private renting sector to support the housing shortage, was highlighted. Did anyone see it? I’m keen to hear what your thoughts are.

Finally, I’d like to remind all landlords it is less than a month until the new minimum EPC regulations come into force. As of 1st April, the new legislation means all rental properties in England and Wales will have to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard (MEES) rating of E. This will apply to all new tenancy agreements and extensions to existing tenancy agreements. It’s only a few weeks until the rules change, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to make any necessary changes and arrange a new EPC inspection.

If you have any views of any of these topics I mentioned, feel free to email me at hasan@bullfinchproperties.co.uk or join the Property Investors in Medway, Maidstone, Gravesend and Bexley Facebook Group, which is ideal for landlords looking to discuss strategies and share networking opportunities.

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