Since the government announced they had changed their model Tenancy Agreement, there has been some confusion over whether landlords can still choose to accept pets in their property.
If the UK government’s new model Tenancy Agreement is used, landlords will have to seek consent for pets as the default position. They will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason to decline this.
To clarify, use of the new model Tenancy Agreement is voluntary and there has been no change in the law regarding the keeping of pets.
Tenancy deposits remain capped under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, but rent can be increased for applicants with pets as long as it is advertised correctly.Lear More
The Housing Secretary has announced a further extension to the ban on bailiff evictions to 31st March 2021. This is to “continue to support renters during the ongoing national lockdown restrictions”. The measures will be kept under review in line with public health advice.
There are exemptions for the most serious circumstances which include:
- Illegal occupation
- False statement
- Anti social behaviour
- Where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant
- Extreme rent arrears
Landlords are required to give 6 months notice to tenants before starting possession proceedings, except in the most serious circumstances.Lear More
As temperatures being to drop, winter weather can bring a whole heap of problems when it comes to property maintenance! Damage such as the escape of water from frozen pipes and other equipment can be extremely costly in repairs and disruption. Steps can however be taken to prevent freezing:
- Ensure that all areas containing pipes and water storage tanks are heated and that the heating is thermostatically controlled to maintain a minimum temperature
- Fuel supplies and any associated equipment should be periodically tested and maintained
- Pipes should be lagged to delay the temperature drop
- Tanks should be lagged around and over, but not underneath so that heat from below can rise
- Minimise pipe runs outside or in areas exposed to winds
- Wet pipe sprinkler systems should be avoided where the temperature cannot be kept above 4 degrees C
- Drain all equipment that carries water or is susceptible to freezing in all vacant areas
- Consider draining the water system if the property will be unoccupied for a prolonged period
In order to minimise damage should the worst occur the following actions could be taken:
- Know the location of all stopcocks inside the premises as well as the main incoming valve in the street and ensure tenants have this information
- If there is a sprinkler system, someone should be responsible for its water supply and pump room. Ensure buildings are inspected to identify frozen or leaking pipes at an early stage
- Responsible staff and tenants should now how to thaw pipes safely:
- Isolate the pipe by closing the stopcock on the feed from the tank or main
- Expect a thawed pipe to leak water, so protect items beneath it
- Use hot water bottles or a hair dryer to thaw the pipe
Earlier this year, the insurers we work alongside instructed a temporary suspension of sales and renewals of their rent and legal protection insurance. This was then replaced with two temporary insurance products, RLP Bridge 1000 and RLP Bridge 2500.
These products were always intended to be a temporary solution to ensure cover could continue during a difficult period.
The great news is a new and more robust product is now available! This provides high quality cover with fair and equitable pricing.
At a glance the new rent and legal insurance provides the following:
- There is no cap on the monthly rental value that can be covered, subject to the policy claim limit
- There is no excess to pay
- Legal expenses can be claimed up to the full policy claim limit
- Post-vacant possession cover is now available once again, where 75% of rent is covered
In more detail the new policy provides the following:
|New Rent & Legal Protection|
|Covers rent arrears up to||No limit|
|Rent arrears covered||100% of the rent for up to six months, or until vacant possession, whichever is first|
|Excess||Nil excess for all claims|
|Eviction of tenants||Up to claim limit|
|Eviction of squatters||Yes|
|Legal costs to pursue the tenant for property damage||Yes|
|Legal costs to pursue the tenant for rent arrears||Yes|
|Legal costs to pursue the tenant for property damage||Yes|
|Legal defence for the landlord||Yes|
|Post-vacant possession cover||75% of rent for a maximum of two months if tenant damage means the property cannot be immediately re-let|
|Covers||Any breach of tenancy, including anti-social behaviour|
|Claims exclusion period||90 days unless there has been continuous rent protection and legal expenses insurance in place since the start of the tenancy|
|Free telephone helplines||Yes|
If you would like some more information on the new product, please do feel free to get in touch.Lear More
New regulations have been introduced in England to allow a digital Home Office check to be carried out on non-UK nationals to evidence their status for Right to Rent.
The system will be the same as the Right to Work system, whereby the individual will provide a share code and their date of birth. This can then be used to access a real time Home Office system.
Some individuals may not have an immigration status that can be checked online at the current time. Original documents for each individual must therefore continue to be checked in this instance.
The following groups of individuals may present a share code for digital checks:
- Non-EEA nationals with a current biometric resident permit or card
- EEA nationals and their family members with status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
- Those with status under the points-based immigration system
The online system will confirm whether an individual has a continuous right to rent or if they have a time limited right to rent. The service will advise when a further check is required for individuals with time limited right to rent.
To support the new system, the Home Office has updated the existing Code of Practice, which also now reflects changes to the status of visitor nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA which came in in July 2019 (known as B5JSSK nationals).
Traditional face to face checks with individuals producing their original documents must still be carried out for any individual who cannot provide a share code.Lear More
At the beginning of October 2020 the government launched a new scheme called The Green Homes grant which gives homeowners in England vouchers to help cover the cost of energy efficiency improvements to their property. This applies to owner occupied properties and also any rental properties.
To qualify for any financial support you must instal at least one PRIMARY improvement:
- Insulation, including solid wall, cavity wall, underfloor, loft or roof insulation. Insulation for a park home is also included.
- Low-carbon heating, including air-source, ground-source and hybrid heat pumps, solar thermal systems and biomass boilers, which provide renewable ways of heating your home.
If you’re installing at least one of the primary improvements above, you’ll also be able to use the vouchers to install “secondary” measures to the same amount.
SECONDARY improvements include:
- Double or triple glazing, or secondary glazing, but only if you currently have single glazing – it won’t cover replacement double glazing.
- Energy efficient doors, where you’re replacing single-glazed or solid doors installed before 2002.
- Heating controls and insulation, including appliance thermostats, hot water tank thermostats, hot water tank insulation, smart-heating controls, zone controls, delayed-start thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves.
Importantly you can only receive the same amount for the secondary improvement as the primary. For example if you spent £1000 on cavity wall insulation (a primary improvement) you could claim £1000 towards any secondary measures. This grant is only available until March 2021.
The primary work has to be completed before the secondary work can commence and also the work must be carried out by a TrustMark-registered installer who is also registered for the scheme. Your installer will also need to meet PAS and MCS standards when installing your measures.
Please follow this link for more details: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-green-homes-grant-scheme#available-measuresLear More
We touched on the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 a couple of months ago but feel the need to re-visit this. It is a very important piece of legislation that has been introduced during troubling times for everyone and could easily be missed.
To reiterate, all new tenancies from 1st July 2020 must have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). This must also be provided at the point of renewal because a renewal is treated as a new tenancy. Any renewals commencing from 1st July 2020 must comply with the new regulations.
An EICR is a report from a professional electrician on your property. The electrician will carry out an in-depth test and inspection to check the condition of the electrics against the national safety standards. As a Landlord you must ensure you have an EICR before a tenant moves into the property.
If a report comes back as ‘unsatisfactory’, the regulations require the landlord to undertake further investigative or remedial work by a qualified person within 28 days of the report, or sooner if specified by the electrician in the report. Unsatisfactory codes shown on the EICR report can include:
- C1 Danger present, risk of injury, immediate remedial action required
- C2 Potentially dangerous, urgent remedial action required
- F1 Further investigation required
If a faulty electrical installation is left unrepaired, a tenant could be at risk of damage to their health and even death. As a landlord, you could leave yourself open to being sued by your tenant and you could be subject to fines from your local authority of up to £30,000 for non-compliance.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the government introduced temporary legislation to protect tenants from being evicted because of hardship brought on by the outbreak. Part of the package of temporary legislation they introduced was to suspend all possession hearings and orders until 23rd August 2020. This means that whilst landlords can still submit an application to Court for possession and enforcement of a notice served on a tenant, the application will not be dealt with until after the suspension is lifted.
We suspect that this is going to cause a huge backlog for the Courts to deal with once the government removes the suspension and will inevitably cause a delay in landlords securing possession of their property and repayment of any rent arrears.
Should you find yourself in this position, we would strongly recommend seeking the advice of a specialist landlord and tenant solicitor to ensure the correct procedure is followed to secure possession.Lear More
After some last minute confusion over dates, the government has confirmed that it is a legal requirement for a satisfactory Electrical Installation Condition Report to be carried out where a new tenancy starts on or after 1st July 2020. A copy of the report must be provided to any prospective tenant before the start of the tenancy. Should the local authority request a copy, this must be provided within 28 days of the request. In the event the condition of the EICR is deemed unsatisfactory, works must be carried out and either a new EICR provided to the tenants or evidence that the works have been carried out. The EICR must be renewed every 5 years or sooner if this is the recommendation provided.
For existing tenancies which are to be renewed after 1st July 2020, it is a requirement for the EICR to be carried out before 1st April 2021.
This is yet another legal loophole for landlords to jump through and something else to remember to carry out. If you would like more information about our management services, please feel free to get in touch.Lear More
To say that Green Door’s second year has been a bit different to the first would be an understatement!
The first 6 months of year 2 saw us off to a flying start! The diary was full of appointments with letting agents and private portfolio landlords and plans were in the pipeline to come to fruition later in the year. Then the covid-19 outbreak struck. The whole country went into lockdown apart from essential shops and key workers. Anyone not a key worker was advised to work from home if possible. So we closed the office and all started working from home which was different to say the least! We also had to take the difficult decision to furlough staff. We are very proud to say that this has not impacted the service provided to our landlords, tenants and agents and we have still maintained our high standards of customer service.
The lines of communication were kept open and we reassured our landlords and tenants that it was business as usual. Inevitably some tenants found themselves in financial difficulties and some awkward conversations were had. We dealt with each of these on a case by case basis and didn’t adopt a blanket “one size fits all” stance because every situation is different. We offered a sympathetic ear, explained each party’s position and found an amicable solution.
We now find ourselves slowly coming out of the dark and making tentative plans for the future! We continue to strive to be the best that we can be, adapt to the “new normal” and offer the best property management service to all of our customers.Lear More