Are you ready for the minimum energy efficiency standards for rented properties?

The new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) are being introduced next year and if you are a buy-to-let investor, you may be required to take action.

Over the last year or so, many experts have put out tips and reminders encouraging all landlords to take measures to ensure that their properties will comply with MEES.

The changes come into force from 1st April 2018 and at that point, it will be illegal to let or lease a residential or commercial property with a poor energy rating.

Buy-to-let landlords should now be addressing these upcoming changes to ensure that, depending on the volume of potential work necessary, the deadline to meet compliance with the regulations is met.

After the April deadline, properties that do not meet the minimum standards cannot be re-let until improvements are made. If the property is re-let, potential penalty fines of £5,000 for a domestic property and £150,000 for a non-domestic property could be levied.

The MEES were introduced with the aim of improving the energy efficiency of private rented properties. All buildings, domestic and non-domestic, in England and Wales are required to achieve at least an E rating on their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) under the MEES scheme. This needs to be in place before they can be leased or rented.

If any improvement works have already been completed but they took place after the original EPC was issued, the property may already be up to the new standard required.

The government will be publishing detailed guidelines in October to clarify the new rules and the obligations of agents, landlords and others. This is expected to include news on a possible cap on improvements – an initial figure of £5,000 has been discussed, but not yet confirmed.

The rule applies to new tenancies and renewals only, but will be extended to existing tenancies by 2020. The Residential Landlords Association says it has now confirmed that listed buildings will be exempt, on condition that landlords have done as much as they are permitted to, to make them energy efficient.

Paul Carr Residential Lettings are working closely with our current, and future, landlords and we are busy advising them, if necessary, on the steps to take to ensure that they are compliant.

If you are currently a landlord, or are looking to rent your property, contact our Lettings Hub and find out all about our with you every step of the way service.

Know your gas safety responsibilities and protect your tenants

The Gas Safe Register have produced the following guide about landlords responsibilities for the safety of their tenants.


As a landlord you should be aware that you are responsible for the safety of your tenants. Your legal duties apply to a wide range of accommodation occupied under a lease or licence, including (but not limited to):

  • Residential premises provided for rent by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, co-operatives, hostels.
  • Rooms, let in bed-sit accommodation, private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels.
  • Rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outline the duties of landlords to ensure gas appliances, fittings and chimneys/flues provided for tenants are safe.

Your responsibilities
If you let a property equipped with gas appliances, you have three main responsibilities:

  1. Maintenance: pipework, appliances and chimney/flues need to be maintained safely. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the frequency given in the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available, you should ask a Gas Safe registered engineer to service them annually.
  2. Gas safety checks: An annual gas safety check should be carried out on each gas appliance/flue. This will ensure gas appliances and fittings are safe to use. There is a legal requirement on you to have all gas appliances safety checked by a registered engineer annually and you also need to maintain gas pipework and flues in a safe condition. This is UK law.
  3. Record: A record of the annual gas safety check should be provided to your existing tenants within 28 days of completion, or to new tenants upon the start of their tenancy. If the rental period is less than 28 days at a time you may display a copy of the record in a prominent position within the dwelling. You’ll need to keep copies of the record for at least 2 years.

    Additional info:
    If a tenant has their own gas appliance that you have not provided, you are responsible only for the maintenance of the gas pipework – not the appliance itself. It’s also a good idea to ensure that your tenants know where/how to turn the gas off and what to do in the event of a gas emergency. Last, but certainly not least, make sure anyone carrying out gas work on your property is Gas Safe registered – this is not only the law, but the most important step to ensuring the safety of your tenants.
     
    Any issues?
    Some landlord/tenant relationships can become problematic, and tenants may refuse to give you access to the property. If this is the case, you should have a previously drawn up agreement with the tenant allowing you access to the property to ensure any maintenance or safety work is carried out. You’ll have to take (and demonstrate that you have taken) all reasonable steps to ensure the work is carried out – this can involve giving a tenant notice. If a tenant does refuse access, be sure to keep a record of any action taken as you may need this at a later date. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations do not give powers to force disconnection of the gas supply in these circumstances and you may need to seek legal advice.



Government spells out fire responsibilities of private rental sector

A minister at the Department of Communities and Local Government has set out the government’s position in terms of the fire-related responsibilities within the private rental sector.

Junior minister Marcus Jones, answering written questions this week, said:

All homes should be of a reasonable standard and all tenants should have a safe place to live.

“Under the Landlord and Tennant Act 1985, landlords have a general obligation to ensure that they keep in repair the structure and exterior of any property they rent out.

Local authorities have strong and effective powers to deal with poor quality unsafe accommodation and we expect them to use those powers.

“Under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, local authorities can issue an Improvement Notice or a Hazard Awareness Notice if they find a defect in the property.

In extreme circumstances, the local authority may decide to make repairs themselves, or to prohibit that property from being rented out.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places a duty on housing providers to undertake a fire risk assessment of the common parts of their properties and to put in place and maintain adequate fire precautions to manage the risk that lives could be lost in a fire. The Order is enforced by fire and rescue authorities.

Other questions and answers relating to fire safety and Grenfell Tower can be found here.

If you have any queries relating to rental properties and the law, please contact our Lettings Hub.

Rise in number of retirees in rented accommodation

According to new research, there has been a large increase in the number of retirees renting homes over the past decade.

The study, conducted by letting agency Countrywide, showed that retirees have paid a total of £3.7bn in rent over the past 12 months, which equates to an increase of 200% when compared to the £1.2bn paid in 2007.

Retired people now account for 8% of all private tenants, which is up from 5.2% ten years ago. This could be attributed in part to changing perceptions and attitudes regarding renting in the older generation.

Further research by Strutt & Parker and Octopus Healthcare showed that one in five baby boomers would consider living in a professionally managed rental property.

Their survey highlighted that there are several reasons as to why the over 65’s want to downsize in their retirement. The top three reasons were requiring more support (34%), lower property maintenance  (33%) and more accessible home with fewer stairs (26%). Other reasons were wanting to live in a smaller property, reducing their outgoings and having a smaller garden.

Problems may arise though as 42% believe there is a lack of suitable properties in the UK to downsize into. Strutt & Parker state that there is clearly a need for a new breed of retirement communities in the UK.

Tenants not taking out contents insurance?

Shocking figures are released in a recent survey about tenants and their lack of contents insurance.

Recent research has shown that 61% of tenants currently have no contents insurance, with 48% admitting that they have never taken out contents insurance at a property they have lived in during their lives.

The survey further revealed that 19% of tenants questioned said they had no idea what contents insurance was, whilst amongst those who actually did have  a policy, 42% of them did not know what it actually covered or what to do in the event of needing to make a claim.

The figures from the Upad research also showed that 78% of tenants have personal belongings that value more than £1,000, with 22% having belongings  with an aggregate value of over £5,000.

Upad founder James Davis stated:

It is madness that tenants are exposing themselves like this, regardless of whether they are trying to save money or, for some reason, think their landlord’s own insurance will keep them covered in the event of loss or damage to their property.

Tenants are far better served having contents insurance that they don’t need rather than finding out they badly need it at precisely the time when something goes horribly wrong. Remember that, even in a fully furnished property, tenants will still have plenty of their own belongings. If tenants are unsure about their level of cover they should check their insurance policy or with their letting agent or landlord.

During the tenancy application process, Paul Carr Residential Lettings recommend that our prospective tenants take out both contents cover for their personal possessions and also cover for accidental damage to the landlord’s contents (such as carpets).

We can assist our tenants in getting the appropriate cover and will provide a free no-obligation quote.

Further details can be found in our Tenants Guide available on our website.

Right to Rent could impact those without a British passport

According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), almost 20% of British citizens could find it harder to access rental property.

The industry trade body surveyed over 900 landlords and reports that 44% of them said they are less likely to let homes to tenants without a British passport.

Currently 17% of British people do not own a passport and this means that gaining access to housing in the private sector may become more difficult for them.

The government’s Right to Rent scheme has been in operation since February 2016 and the RLA has been researching its impact.

Under this legislation, landlords, or letting agents acting on their behalf, are required to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants.

The survey found that over 50% of the participants are now less likely to consider letting to people who are currently living outside of the UK.

Also, 22% said that they are now less likely to let to EU nationals or those from the European Economic Area.

What are the biggest causes of deductions from rental deposits?

When renting out a property, most landlords – or their letting agents – opt to take a deposit from the tenant(s) prior to the tenancy starting.

Deposits offer a level of protection to landlords, meaning that, if the tenant breaches the terms of the tenancy agreement, they can them make appropriate deductions from the deposit.

Clear property damage, poor cleanliness or anything that is different from the property’s original state, which is easy to identify if there is an inventory management report and a schedule of condition in place at the start of the tenancy agreement, will enable the landlord or their agent to rightly off-set the compensation from the tenant’s deposit.

Research by interior specialists Hillarys, part of ongoing research into the habits of Britons and their attitudes towards renting, showed that top reasons that tenants were given for why they had lost part, or all, of their tenancy deposit.

Marks on the walls, carpet stains, the need for redecorations and mould were among the five most common reasons listed as to why tenants had had money deducted.

Broken furniture29%
Marks on walls24%
Carpet stains21%
Redecorations12%
Mould9%

Spokesperson for Hillarys, Tara Hill, said:

Security deposits are an unavoidable part of renting a property, and can be an essential way for landlords to deal with damage caused by tenants. But they can result in disputes and are a major cause of distrust among tenants.

Whilst there appears to be an issue around the lack of trust when related to deposit protection, according to the research, Paul Carr Residential Lettings use The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), which is run by The Dispute Service under a government awarded contract.

For further details in regards to The Tenancy Deposit Scheme and the guidelines Paul Carr Residential Lettings follow, please see our Tenant’s Guide.

ARLA and NAEA comment on the appointment of Alok Sharma as Housing and Planning Minister

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark (Association of Residential Letting Agents) and Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark (National Association of Estate Agents) comment on the appointment of the new Housing and Planning Minister.

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark (Association of Residential Letting Agents) and Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark (National Association of Estate Agents)
Pictured, David Cox and Mark Hayward.

We would like to congratulate Alok Sharma on his appointment to Minister of State for Housing and Planning. We worked closely with the former administration to secure a number of key improvements to the industry including support for greater property transparency and more appropriate regulation through the introduction of Client Money Protection for letting agents.

However, more can be done and the Minister will have a lot in his in-tray as he arrives on his first day as long standing issues continue to impact the sector. We call on the Minister to build upon the underwhelming recommendations contained within the Housing White Paper and take forward a series of fundamental reforms to change the industry for the better. Demand continues to greatly outstrip supply and more appropriate regulation of the sector is vital if we are to improve the experience of people looking to rent and purchase a home.

The Government has a good opportunity at the Queens Speech to introduce a new and radical Housing Bill to address these significant concerns. The challenges are not insurmountable and we greatly look forward to working with the DCLG team to find solutions to these challenges in the months ahead.

Paul Carr Sales and Lettings are members of both the NAEA Propertymark and ARLA Propertymark.

Quarter of households will be private renters by 2021

According to new research, the proportion of households living in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) will rise to 24% over the next four years.

The Knight Frank Multihousing Report has suggested that some 5.79 million households will be private renters by the end of 2021.

The survey of over 10,000 tenants revealed that 68% expect to still be living in the PRS in three years’ time.

The young professional demographic, 25-34-year-olds, make up the largest proportion of private renters.

The biggest concerns for tenants are affordability, location and then the rental property itself.

Tim Hyatt, head of residential lettings at Knight Frank, said:

The flexibility that renting offers has reinforced its popularity as both a sensible and accepted solution for young couples without children and those living on their own but also highlights an expected rise in older households over the next five years.

The number of people renting out of choice rather than due to affordability of ownership constraints is an interesting indicator of how the market will continue to thrive in terms of tenant demand.

Institutional investment in the PRS is set to rise to £70 billion over the next five years, according to the research. The changes in recent years, including the 3% stamp duty surcharge and the restriction of BTL mortgage interest tax relief, have made institutional, large scale investment in the PRS more appealing.

If you are currently a landlord or are looking to invest in a rental property, please contact our Lettings Hub and find out how we are committed to getting you the best rental value for your property.

Almost half of BTL landlords are looking to expand their portfolios

Almost half of buy-to-let landlords are looking to expand their property portfolios, according to a new poll.

The Mortgages for Business’ Property Investor Survey revealed that, despite the existing phasing out of mortgage tax relief and the introduction of the 3% stamp duty surcharge last year for those acquiring an additional home, including a buy-to-let property, 48% of landlords are currently looking to add to their portfolios.

This figure is up from 45% in November and 41% a year ago.

The study, which was carried out over a two-week period last month, had landlords answering questions about their portfolios.

Steve Olejnik, chief operating officer of Mortgages for Business, said:

“Although we expect buy-to-let lending to reduce somewhat this year, these results demonstrate that landlords are a resilient bunch, capable of adapting their investment strategies to successfully accommodate the new fiscal and regulatory landscape.”

The research found that 62% of landlords have been adapting to the changing environment by consulting tax advisers in regards to recent tax amendments and 42% of investors are currently opting for longer fixed-term mortgages.

He added:

“Incorporation is becoming a standard practice and the move towards five year fixed rates allows landlords to maximise their borrowing options.”

If you are looking to invest in the North Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield or South Staffordshire areas, please contact our dedicated Lettings Hub to start your property journey with Paul Carr Residential Lettings.