The property market in the UK has experienced a lot of change in recent years. After the peak of the market in 2014, it has stagnated or even declined in some areas. Changes in laws to stamp duty, tax deductibility of mortgage interest, and general economic conditions have all affected the market from an investor’s or owner’s perspective.
There are new measures to protect tenants’ rights. If you are an owner or a tenant, it is important you understand the regulations – for owners there are BIG penalties imposed if you are in breach. Here is a summary:
- Tenant Fees Ban (effective 1 June 2019)
- Agents and owners are not allowed to pass on hidden costs to tenants (eg tenant referencing, credit checks, inventories). The rent should be the rent…and nothing else;
- Owners can collect a maximum of 5 weeks rent as a deposit (6 weeks if the annual rent is greater than £50,000).
- Fit for Human Habitation (effective 20 March 2019)
The ‘Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act’ requires landlords to ensure their property is free of hazards and is fit for human habitation. Properties in breach will face court action from tenants.
- Client Money Protection Scheme (effective 1 April 2019)
Ensures client funds (essentially; deposits) are protected under a government-approved Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme, or face a fine of up to £30,000.
- Minimum Space Standards (effective October 2018)
New requirements for the minimum size of bedrooms. It depends on how many people occupy the room, so the onus is also on the tenants to not over-occupy. Tenants have 18 months to rectify any problem, or face a fine of up to £30,000.
- Mortgage Interest Tax Relief (effective 6 April 2017)
Changes to the tax law see mortgage deductibility phased out over 4 years to April 2020 (except commercial and furnished holiday lets)
Read here for my in-depth analysis of this law.
- HMO Licensing (effective October 2018)
If you rent out your property to 5 or more tenants using the same shared services, you need to register for an HMO license.
CHANGES EXPECTED AFTER 2019
- Rent controls in London
A Labour Party manifesto pledge in 2017, and part of Major Sadiq Khan’s 2020 re-election bid – we need to wait to see how this plays out.
- Minimum Efficiency Standards (effective April 2018)
A minimum energy threshold of ‘E’ on an EPC certificate is required on new lets and renewals, and will apply to all existing lets from 1 April 2020.
- Complaints Resolution Service
In January 2019 the Government announced a new complaint service for the whole market.
- Electrical Installation Checks
Another measure announced by the government, however they are yet to provide an implementation plan. It will likely require an installation check every 5 years.