A statement yesterday from the government has now put landlords and investors at further risk. This is due to the extension periods when it comes to eviction and bailiff dates. We outline below the changes that have been made to date.
The government have decided to extend the ban on evictions enforced by bailiffs in England until May. This has come as some bad news to a lot of landlords who already have people substantially in arrears.
The ministers have indicated that this could be the final extension promising a new approach from June, or more likely a potential taper of how the notices work.
The current ban has already been extended several times during the pandemic and was due to expire in March. This has now been extended to the 31st May. The government has also extended ban on commercial evictions until the 30th June. They state will help people to potentially re-open after the lockdown.
What the government kept under the radar yesterday was that they have also extended the notice period. A landlord normally has to give two months’ notice at the end of a contact or once they are on a month-to-month basis however the government extended this to six months’. This was due to expire on the 31st March. This has now been extended until the 31st May. If you are therefore thinking of selling and wanted to place the property on the market you may need to contact your letting agent with a view to issuing the six months’ notice immediately. It puts landlords in a difficult position.
However, latest research by shelter shows that almost half a million private renters in England have fallen behind with their rent or been served with some type of eviction notice. The charity says it has been inundated with calls from people struggling to pay their bills.
The Chief Executive of the charities states “These extensions will come as a relief to the frightened renters who have been flooding our helpline with calls. While the threat level from the virus is still high, it is right the renters can stay safe in their homes.”
They have also called on the government to change the way that notices are served. To create a “Fit for purpose” system.
Unfortunately, the government do not understand that this will have financial implication for people that rent, and landlords remain unsolved. The Chancellor needs to come up with some sort of package to deal with the arrears of tenants. There could be potentially a homelessness crisis where people will eventually be evicted from their property. There are various people who do not qualify for benefit support. More tenants will start to face losing their homes. Many will carry damaged credit scores for many years to come. This will make it difficult to rent in future and cause a huge pressure on local authorities when they least expect it.
Landlords can still serve notice, even if their tenants have done nothing wrong and courts remain open to the process for eviction. The government protection excludes renters who owe more than six months’ rent and many of these people will be in debt due to the pandemic.
We would suggest that you start to resolve early exactly any thoughts you may have of wanting to sell the property.
New law coming on pets, be aware.
There is a new law that is currently going through parliament called the dogs and domestic animals accommodation protection bill. It proposes it to make it a right for tenants to have domestic animals in rental properties. Currently awaiting a second reading before it moves through to parliament.
Earlier this year the government announced they had re-written its model standard tenancy agreement to include more pet friendly elements. See here. This makes it easier for tenants to be able to keep well behaved pets. Although it is not mandatory for agents or landlords to use this tenancy at this moment in time. It is important as a landlord that you start to prepare for more pet friendly potential service. It is important therefore that you have a detailed inventory. Also carry out regular inspections to ensure that you are covered.
The clauses in respect of giving permission for pets can be extensive but we enclose an example as follows although you should always take legal advice in getting your own contract draw up;
It is agreed between the landlord and the tenant that the landlord grants permission for the tenant to keep a small dog/cat at the property for the duration of the tenancy. The tenant agrees not to keep or permit to keep on the property any further pet or animals of any description without previous consent in writing of the landlord. The tenant hereby undertakes and agrees to remedy and pay for any damage caused to the property and/or contents of the property that shall have been caused by the pet residing in the property. For the avoidance of doubt any such damage shall not deem to be fair wear and tear. The tenant agrees to pay for professional cleaning at the property at the end of the tenancy. To include cleaning of all carpets and treating the property for fleas and mice.
The following are the pet policies of the landlord outlined below in respect of the said pets;
- The tenants are responsible for their pets in accordance with the animal welfare act. If the landlord believes that pet kept in the property is being neglected or abandoned, they will report it to the appropriate animal welfare organisation.
- The tenants must not leave their pets in the property when they are away unless cleaning arrangements have been made for their care.
- Dogs should not be left alone at the property for more than 4 hours at a time. Tenants must ensure that their dogs will not cause damage to the property if they are left unsupervised.
- All pets kept at the property must be vaccinated and regularly treated for fleas and worms (if appropriate).
- Tenants are responsible for keeping all areas of the property clean and free from parasites, such as fleas.
- Tenants must ensure that their pets do not cause a nuisance to any neighbours. This includes excessive noise. Dogs must be kept under control and on a lead in any public areas, communal areas, or walkways.
- Pets must not be allowed to fowl inside the property, expect for caged pets and pets trained to use a litter tray. Any pet faeces must be removed immediately from the garden or outside area and is disposed of safety and hygienically.
- Any dog listed under the dangerous dog’s act 1991 must not be kept at the property with the acceptation of dogs registered on the index of exempted dogs.
- Tenants may not breed animals or offer for sale any animal in the property.
- If tenants wish to obtain an additional pet other than the one that has been given permission must first apply in writing for the consent of the landlord
The tenant’s fees act capped the amount of deposits that landlords can take up to five weeks. It is therefore so important that your tenancy is amended and at the same time an inventory is taken of the property in case there is any damage.
We have mentioned previously how important we believe it is to have guarantors on properties in this regard.
Electrical installation checks.
We have done many articles over a period and tried to keep these updated at all times. The changes are forever coming through.
You are no doubt aware that as from the 1st April all landlords on existing properties and renewals need to have an EICR for their properties. The EICR needs to ensure that the property is safe and lasts for a period of five years. What most landlords do not realise is that just doing an EICR is not the end of the situation. You then must ensure that you serve it on the tenants and have them acknowledge it. This is going to be so important if you ever had to evict the tenant.
Client Protection Money.
The deadline for letting agents to comply with client protection money legalisation has been pushed back twice over the past years. However, a firm date has been set for 2021. All agents but be compliant by the 1st April.
All lettings’ agents must join a client money protection scheme if they hold client’s money. These schemes make sure landlords and tenants are compensated if you cannot repay the money for example going into administration. The rules regarding these changes are here.
Changes to the right to rent.
Changes to the right to rent have already been put in place. Brexit bought in a points-based system from the 1st January. Landlords have been told to continuously use passport and national ID cards. This is an interim measure till the 30th June. However, thereafter they need to check the tenants right to rent as there will be new regulations. To check the tenants right to rent the details are here.
The above is only a small amount of the changes this year. We will outline further changes that will take place later in the year. Don’t hesitate to call us on 01273 827090 if you are looking for a quote regarding any form of landlord insurance.