The UK government will not be relaxing requirements on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) despite movement restrictions put in place as a result of the coronavirus. In guidance published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) it was made clear that properties put on the market will still be required to obtain an EPC before being sold, let or built.
It added that assessments should only be conducted where the work is essential.
A valid EPC is legally required when a property is sold, let or constructed and must be completed by an accredited assessor unless an exemption can be applied.
Landlords and sellers have seven days to obtain a valid EPC from the day the property is marketed, with a further 21 days grace period allowed if all reasonable efforts have been made to obtain one, but it has not been possible.
Restriction of movement laws and social distancing practices which have resulted in almost all valuers and surveyors stopping in-person property surveys are likely to have severely hampered EPC assessors as well.
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The latest advice issued today is that although tradespeople can complete repairs at properties if they take precautions, landlords should avoid face-to-face contact with existing or prospective tenants.
The government has told landlords and letting agents that they should not conduct house viewings or complete routine inspections of properties, but has said that their tradespeople can complete emergency repairs.
But confirmation has yet to come through from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government about essential tasks such as gas safety and electrical equipment testing and whether these will be exempt from the lockdown as ‘essential services’.
It is also understood that ministers are considering whether to allow many of the companies serving the private rented sector to continue doing their work if a property is owned by someone working in frontline health and emergency services.
Until yesterday industry organisation Gas Safe Register was recommending to landlords that they book inspections by an approved engineer as soon as possible if their renewal date was within the next two months.
The organisation says that following the lock-down announcement last night, it is urgently seeking guidance from the Cabinet Office and the Health and Safety Executive about whether residential property safety inspections will be deemed ‘essential services’.
Also, landlords who are refurbishing properties can continue their work as construction sites have also been given the green light as essential service, it was confirmed this morning.
But all this advice from government remains just that – guidance; the necessary legislation to make it an offence to ignore the rules has yet to make its way through parliament, although this is expected to be achieved at any moment.
One grey area is whether landlords can help tenants move into or out of a property; there are a large number of outstanding rental tenancy contracts that were signed and paid for up-front before the Coronavirus shutdown, and now lockdown, gripped the nation.
Tenants are set to have more security as the Government looks to end no-fault evictions.
The Renters’ Reform Bill, which was included in the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, will mean landlords can no longer evict tenants for no reason.
But landlords will be given more rights to take back possession of their property through the courts when they have a valid reason to do so, with the process made quicker and easier for them.
A new lifetime deposit scheme will also be introduced, under which rental deposits can be transferred between different properties so that tenants do not have to save for a new deposit each time they move home.
The bill is part of a range of initiatives by the Government to improve the private rental sector for tenants and give them more stability, particularly for families with children.
Under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, landlords can currently give tenants eight weeks’ notice to vacate their property once the fixed term period of their contract has ended.
The bill also includes measures to improve the standard of rented accommodation, with tenants given a right to redress if their homes are deemed not to be safe or are bad for their health.
The bill will only cover England.
Top 3 benefit of the bill
Tenants are set to have more security as the Government looks to end no-fault evictions
Landlords will be given more rights to take back possession of their property through the courts when they have a valid reason to do so
A new lifetime deposit scheme will be introduced, under which rental deposits can be moved between different properties
As the tech industry has boomed, home prices and asking rents in such areas for example the Bay Area have roughly doubled over the past decade, becoming by many counts the highest in the US.
Last month, the San Francisco Association of Realtors said the median home price in San Francisco had hit $1.4m. The average asking rent exceeded $3,200 per month, according to research firm Moody’s Analytics-Reis.
Wages in the area have increased as well, but not as fast as housing costs.
A family needs to earn $126,800 a year to rent a typical two-bedroom property in San Francisco without spending more than 30% of their income – the share typically considered affordable. In 2017, about 40% of Bay Area renters spent more.
The high costs are forcing companies to pay more and work harder to find staff, one reason the tech firms have taken an interest.
For the most part, their pledges aren’t philanthropy.
Apple is lending the state up to $1bn to help finance affordable housing projects and providing $1bn to California’s first-time homebuyer fund.
Google and Facebook also plan to invest hundreds of millions in new housing. Land owned by the tech companies that will be made available for housing construction accounts for another major part of the commitments – a full $750m worth in Google’s case.
Such large promises are “unprecedented”, but a lack of detail makes them hard to evaluate, says Carol Galante, director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley.
“It’s in their self-interest but it’s also obviously in the community’s interest.”
Multinational businesses all over the world should borrow a leaf from this and invest in housing to solve the global housing crisis.
In UK property purchase in spite of the word ‘tenants’, this has nothing to do with renting the property. It’s all to do with what happens if one of the property owner dies.
Joint tenants – If your names are written on the deeds as ‘joint tenants’ then if one of you dies the other one (the survivor) gets the whole of the property straight away.
Tenants in common – If your names are written on the deeds as ‘tenants in common’ then if one of you dies, the will is examined to see what should happen to their share. If there is no will, there are rules about this and they should be followed. Tenants in common is usually used where either party has children by a previous relationship and wants to make sure that on their death, their share of the house goes to their children.
If one person is putting more than the other then as tenants in common you can hold it in unequal shares for example 70 per cent to one, 30 per cent to the other. However in this case you should consider drawing up a Trust Deed as well to protect your interest. It is best to seek professional and legal advice.
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Greetings card chain Clintons is considering shop closures and rent cuts as part of a survival plan.
The retailer, which has about 2,500 staff, is in restructuring talks with landlords in another sign of the High Street crisis.
A spokeswoman told the BBC no decisions have yet been made.
Clintons was responding to reports on Sunday that it wanted to close 66 out of 332 shops, with landlords slashing rents on most of the other stores.
The restructuring would involve a controversial scheme known as a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), an insolvency process that allows companies to continue trading while pushing through closures and rent cuts.
A Clintons spokeswoman said “discussions are continuing with our landlords but no decisions have been made”.
But she declined to comment on a Sunday Telegraph report that the company told landlords 90 of its shops were loss-making and that sales were expected to continue to decline.
Renting a property in the UK required a great deal of time and money. If you don’t have the time and experience, it’s advisable to use an agent. If you do have time and experience the extra effort and expense should help to maximise the eventual rental income.
There are a number of things you will need to take into consideration before tenants move in and the rent payments lands in your bank account.
Firstly, you need to ensure that the property is in good condition. Try and put yourself in a tenant’s shoes – if you were searching for a house to rent and you came to have a look around this property, what would be your first impression? If your property is well-maintained and looks in good condition, it will be easier to rent out at a good rental price.
Beyond first impressions, there are some safety checks you are legally required to complete before you rent out your property. You must have a gas-safety inspection carried out by a Gas Safe Register accredited engineer. All electrical appliances must also be checked and certified as safe. All upholstered furniture must be passed as fireproof, and must have a sewn-in label attesting to this. Any upholstered furniture that does not have this label should be removed from the property before tenants move in. Landlords are also required by law to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This must be carried out by a domestic energy assessor, who will assess the energy efficiency of the property.
Using an agent
If you choice to use a lettings agent to rent out your property, they will do so for a fee of around 10 per cent of the annual rent. They will market your property and bring prospective tenants round to view it. Once they have found tenants for you, their involvement stops, unless you ask them to manage the property for you. They will usually charge a fee of around five per cent of the annual tent for this. this means that tenants will deal directly with the agents on any issues relating to the property – from repairs to giving notice. Always get at least three different letting agent to give you an estimate of how much you can rent your property for, what fees they charge and what services they offer before choosing the on that best suit you. The main benefit of renting your property through an agent is that they will do all the work for you.
Going it alone
For those who have the time and experience of finding tenants themselves and working out their own arrangements for managing the property, then there is nothing to stop you from renting it out independently. Doing this will save you money and give you more control over not only who the tenants are, but also the tradespeople you allow into the property. The reality is that it is the good properties that are easiest to rent independently. Tenants tend to go for the ones that are fairly priced, well maintained, close to public transport and well described. Avoid wrong and over the top description of the property, it’s just a waste of everyone’s time.
When people come to view your property, it is helpful to have someone else with you to get a second opinion on the prospective tenant and also for safety reasons. To save time it’s sensible to have several people come to view at the same time, it also add a feeling of competition within the prospective tenants to act fast. When you have found tenants for your property, make sure you have sufficient information about them so you can assess the risk in accepting the tenancy. This means checking bank statements, as well as taking out full credit history on a tenant. You should also check their current and previous employment status, as well as their renting history and references. If you find the tenants yourself, but are unable to manage the property once they moved in, you can employ a managing agent to do that for you.
The financial side
Whether you rent your property through an agent or independently, you must be realistic about money. When budgeting and setting the rent, landlords are generally advised to factor in eight weeks a year for the property to be empty. If the times between rental periods are less than this then the extra revenue can be viewed as bonus. You should also take out specialist building and contents insurance such as landlord insurance, as without a specific reference to letting in your policy you may be uninsured. Also, consider insuring against the tenant defaulting. This normally covers both rent and legal expenses. You most also inform your mortgage lender that you will be renting out your house otherwise it might render your mortgage invalid. Similarly you are required to register your rental income for tax purposes. It is mandatory for landlords to comply with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) legislation. which requires all deposits to be registered with (and in some cases held by) a government – approved scheme.
The Legal side
A tenancy agreement is required as a legal contract. if you are letting through an agency, the agent will draw up a contract for the period of the tenancy, but if you are letting it independently you will need to draw out your own contract with the tenants. You can download contracts from the internet or buy them off the shelf from shops such as WH Smith, but this is not recommended. It is advisable to seek legal advice before entering into any contractual agreements. Make sure you also prepare a full, detailed inventory of the property. This should include the condition of all contents, as well as walls, ceilings, doors and fixtures and fittings – to make sure there is no surprise claims.
Finally, it’s very important to provide good level of service to your tenant to hold onto them for as long as possible. If they are unhappy with the service you provide they will leave. As a landlord, you are essentially a caretaker, and you will need to make sure that maintenance work is being carried out as when required, whether you arrange it yourself or paying an agent to do it.
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