The Government have proposed to introduce the Renters’ Reform Bill. The aim is to improve the experience of those living in the private rented sector and the main points highlighted so far are:
- Introduction of a lifetime deposit – it is proposed that tenants be able to pay one deposit which is then transferred from property to property if the tenants move.
- Passporting system – this is to tie in with the lifetime deposit to ensure protection is given to landlords who need to claim against a tenants’ deposit and the new landlord whose property the tenants are due to move into.
- Abolition of section 21 notice – this is something that was proposed last year and has reared its ugly head again! The proposal is to abolish so called “no fault” evictions and reform the grounds for possession.
As more information is released about the Renters’ Reform Bill, Green Door will publish this on our news page and social media.Lear More
Making sure your property is ready for winter means you’ll be able to keep the warmth in, save money and protect your home too. When the autumn months roll by, make sure you prepare for the colder months with this helpful checklist.
You can do some simple checks to make sure your heating is ready for winter. This includes radiators and fireplaces.
- Check the pilot light for your boiler is on.
- Your gas safety certificate should be valid and updated annually. Make sure to check with your Property Manager if the certificate has expired.
- Fireplaces and chimneys should have been cleaned before you moved in. But if you are resident for an extended period of time, please check if they are clean and clear.
- Check radiators are working correctly. If you need to bleed radiators you can either do this yourself or request a professional to do it for you.
Keeping the water flowing is even more important in the winter months. These quick checks will make sure you’re ready.
- Make sure pipes are insulated, especially pipes in the loft or outside the premises
- Check the stopcock is working
- Make sure pipes are clear
Your insulation needs to be efficient to enable you to keep the heat in. Inefficient insulation means lost heat and lost money.
- Check draught proof covers around letterboxes and keyholes
- Check door and window frames for damage and arrange repair if necessary
Gardens and outside areas
In the winter months, your garden or outside area tends to become neglected. To minimise damage to the property, the garden and the equipment, you should:
- Trim bushes and prune trees
- Rake up any fallen leaves
- If you want to plant shrubs and trees, autumn is the ideal time to do so
- Put away any equipment or outside furniture
The autumn months are a good opportunity to check the property before the wet or cold weather sets in.
- Check for peeling paint, which can be a sign of moisture penetrating the building
- Check pipes, drains and guttering to make sure they’re clear and properly affixed
- Autumn is a good time to clean windows, once again you might need to hire someone to do this
- Make sure vents are not obstructed
- Check exterior lights are working correctly
The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations came into effect in April 2018. It set a minimum energy efficiency level for private rented properties in England and Wales. Properties in England and Wales must be rated “E” or higher to be privately let and those with ratings “F” and “G” must be brought up to standard before the deadline. This rating is found on a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) can only be issued by a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor and each certificate is logged and accessible on a national register. They last for 10 years and the same certificate can be used for multiple tenancies with different tenants.
If a property does not meet the minimum standard of an E rating, it must not be let to a new tenant after 1 April 2018 until it is reassessed with an E or higher rating. If the tenancy period has already begun but it started before 1 April 2018, the landlord must improve the property rating to E or higher by 1 April 2020.
An “A” rating indicates that a property achieved the highest level of energy efficiency, and a “G” rating signifies the lowest level of energy efficiency. Apart from a rating, a certificate also shows a building’s carbon dioxide emissions, which can be affected by a building’s walls, flooring, roof insulation, boilers and more. These are all factors an assessor will look at when assessing the EPC rating of a property. Note that if your property has an EPC done within 10 years, but a newer EPC was done more recently, the rating on the more recent EPC prevails.
There are exemptions to the MEES rules, but they have to be regularly assessed, and they expire after 6 months or 5 years, depending on which exemption is applied for. You would however need a valid EPC to apply for an exemption. In some cases, surveyors or architects may need to be hired and it is usually more cost-effective to improve a property’s energy efficiency rating than to apply for an exemption.Lear More
As the summer draws to an end and August is upon us, it is a good time to highlight how important it is for landlords to carry out regular maintenance on their property. Typical maintenance issues reported to us around this time of year are boiler issues, blocked guttering and fences being blown down. Tenants will start firing up the central heating so boiler services are essential to ensure it is working and avoid any emergency call outs when the weather gets really cold. Gutter clearance is something a lot of people don’t think about but again is essential. Any build up of moss or debris can cause a blockage in the guttering which could lead to the water overflowing and running down the side of the property. This could potentially then cause damage and/or damp in the property resulting in a large remedial bill. Making sure fences are sturdy and secure is also a must ready for any high winds that may befall the country! Again, this could avoid a hefty bill for any landlord if it gets blown down and causes damage to a neighbour’s property. Proactive property maintenance is always better (and usually cheaper) than reactive property maintenance!Lear More
Updated guidance has been released regarding Right to Rent checks for individuals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA – also known as B5JSSK countries. Since 20th May 2019 individuals from these countries have been able to enter the UK using “eGates”. This means that these individuals may not have a stamp in their passport or visa confirming their length of stay and associated conditions. These individuals are receiving this information verbally from border control staff upon using the “eGate”.
This can mean that any individual from one of these countries may not have a stamp in their passport or visa but is automatically granted leave to enter the UK for a period of 6 months. They also have the Right to Rent a property for the duration of their lawful stay. However their passport will not be endorsed to show their date of entry and their documentation may not satisfy the current Right to Rent criteria. Therefore some additional documentation will need to be requested.
Additional supporting acceptable evidence of entry to the UK may include one or more of the following:
- An original or copy of a boarding pass or electronic boarding pass for air, rail or sea travel to the UK, establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months;
- An original or copy airline, rail or boat ticket or e-ticket establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months;
- Any type of booking confirmation (original or copy) for air, rail or sea travel to the UK establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months;
- Any other documentary evidence which establishes the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months.
The minimum period for a time limited check is 12 months and agents can only schedule a follow up check prior to the end of the 12 month period. This is despite knowing that the tenant initially had leave to remain for only 6 months. In most cases, the tenant will have either left the property or applied for a further period to remain in the UK. If agents are challenged on this, evidence of a correctly administered 12 month check will provide a solid basis for a statutory excuse against civil penalty.
Further helpful information and guidance can be found on the gov.uk website.Lear More
The lettings industry has always been governed by a lot of different legislation and every day there seems to be something else added to the list!
We saw the Tenant Fees Act introduced on 1st June 2019. This has caused a lot of additional work for everyone with the restrictions it imposes. Although here at Green Door, we put a lot of preparation in before the Act was introduced, so two months’ down the line we have made all the necessary changes and made sure our clients are aware of the what can and can’t be done.
The government have now proposed abolition of section 21 notices, a review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and Regulation of Property Agents.
Section 21 notices can be used where the tenancy is an AST and where the landlord needs possession of their property, but in circumstances where the tenant is not in breach of tenancy – so called “no fault evictions”. The government are proposing to strengthen the mandatory grounds upon which a landlord can rely to evict their tenants and also speed up the court process in order for possession to be granted if it gets that far.
The review of the HHSRS is an attempt at identifying a simpler means of banding the results of HHSRS assessments. Currently there are 29 identifiable hazards which fit into 4 main groups. The government are considering the amalgamation and/or removal of some of the existing hazard profiles in order to make it simpler for landlords to ensure they comply.
The Regulation of Property Agents outlines clear proposals for raising professional standards across the industry through mandatory regulation and qualification. These fall into three key aims: qualifications, overarching code of practice, regulation and licencing of agents. It is likely that agents will need to have a qualification of at least level 3 ARLA Technical Award (equivalent to an A level), the overarching code of practice will give specific more detailed codes for each sector and licensing will be for both the individual qualifications and also companies. This will include Anti Money Laundering, Client Money Protection, Public Liability Insurance and being a member of a redress scheme.
Green Door can take the stress out of keeping on top of the changes and updates in legislation. Being a member of ARLA Propertymark we already have to adhere to strict codes of practice which are above and beyond the industry standard. We also have access to industry updates as and when they happen with the use of a legal helpline when those unexpected queries arise.
Green Door are one! And what an exciting first year it has been.
From the initial launch we were off to a flying start with a portfolio of properties from a private landlord. Being active on social media created the channels for several agents needing our services to make contact. Having a flexible service we could adjust to fit our agents needs and a simple fee structure, other agents were soon signing up for our outsourcing services.
Over the year we have covered many miles out on the road meeting clients and visiting properties. We love meeting our clients; landlords, agents or tenants and seeing the properties first hand, which is just one example of how Green Door like to give a personal service.
Of course there have been a few challenges along the way, which is to be expected with new software and processes but they have been overcome relatively pain free.
We are so pleased that our targets for the first year have all been met and whilst there has been lots of hard work and hours put in, we can honestly say, we love our job and wouldn’t have it any other way now. So, the next chapter is year two and we are fine tuning our plans and goals for Green Door to grow. Watch this space!! (This time next year Rodney… 😉.)Lear More
It’s been a long time coming but finally the Tenant Fees Act 2019 hits us on 1st June. The Act is designed to protect tenants from having to shell out large sums of money at the beginning of a tenancy in administration fees and high security deposits. Here at Green Door we have spent a lot of time in making sure we understand the Tenant Fees Act 2019 so that we can advise our landlords and partner agents accordingly of the impact that this is going to have. The Act is much more complicated than just no longer being able to charge tenant fees! There are caps on security deposits depending on the annual rent amount, caps on holding money payments and limitations on how long these can be held for. Tenancy Agreements have been updated as have our landlord’s terms and conditions of business. We have also found alternative options to the capped security deposits to ensure our landlords and tenants have a variety of products to meet their needs. This includes Deposit Replacement Insurance, Property Damage Protection and Tenant Liability Insurance.Lear More
As a member of ARLA Propertymark, Green Door work to a higher standard than the law demands. We are backed by a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme and have experienced and trained professionals who are required to undertake regular training to keep up to date with complex legislative changes and best practice. We are members of a Government approved independent redress scheme and have to submit independently audited financial accounts to ARLA Propertymark each year. Our membership has just been renewed for another year so we are all set and raring to go!Lear More
The Government has committed to requiring all property agents in the private rented sector to obtain membership of an approved Client Money Protection Scheme by 1st April 2019. CMP is a compensation scheme which recompenses landlords and tenants should an agent misappropriate their rent, deposit or other client fund. This is great news for the industry and offers protection and security to landlords and tenants. Outsourcing to Green Door means that this is already taken care of for you as we handle all client money on your behalf.Lear More