Legal and compliance update

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Right to rent checks

The Government has now extended its digital right to rent checks in England until the 5th April 2022. This means you can continue to prove Right to rent for tenants by showing their original documents over a video call or providing a scanned copy or photos.

There is a potential that the Government may eventually push these to simpler online checks and this is dependant on various trade agreements being signed.

Right to rent checks only required in England they have not yet been rolled out in Ireland, Scotland or Wales. It should be noted that where people have a VISA and they expire then further checks must be made.

Possession claims and notices

The Section 21 which is the end of tenancy notice has now reverted back to the 2 months in all cases. It had been moved to 6 months then 4 but has now reverted to the normal 2 months notice.

A section 8 notice which relates to arrears of rent has now reverted back to 2 weeks for the common grounds such as rent arrears. It is 2 months of grounds which are not of fault of the tenants such as the landlord wishes to regain possession of the property to live in or carry out development work. For antisocial behaviour in relation to immoral use of the property no notice is required. In respect of serious anti-social behaviour only 1 month.

Renters reform bill

The new rents reform bill which is due to resolve all of these issues including adding life time tenancies and many more other laws by the Government. This has for the moment be pushed back to next year. There is a high likelihood that there will be certain previsions within the new act requiring all landlords to be part of a redress scheme. It is not known whether if you let through an agent you don’t need to do so. All lettings agents have to have a redress scheme from now on.

We shall keep you updated on the provisions and what will be included in the renters reform bill.

Property tax in Wales

Wales has devolved some property taxation. They are in high number of second homes in Wales, the Welsh Government is looking into ways of tackling this by making the ownership of second homes and self-catering accommodation more expensive. This will come through the local council tax. Currently, long term empty properties and properties rented in the holiday sector can be charged at high council tax rates by local authorities. However, most of them do not take advantage of this. This may be changed to be increased to at 50 if not 100% on these properties by way of increase.

Rent repayment orders

There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding rent repayment orders where councils and courts are giving repayments to tenants on certain cases. There was a recent case where refund was given up to 12 months rent for the following circumstances;

  • The property doesn’t have a licence.
  • The landlord does not comply with the council.
  • The occupier has been harassed or evicted without the correct court paperwork.

This has recently been changed by the law courts. It was first decided that 100% of the rent would be given back but then the courts reverted back to 50%. They are now looking between 75-80% of all rent that has been paid.

It is therefore extremely important that if you do not have a licence or not sure, you should contact us.

In a recent rent to rent case the tenants subsequently sublet the property to other people. The tenants were then served with a notice by the local authority to do certain items in the property. In effect they were the landlords. So, it is this instance, the landlord lets to a rent to rent company – They then sublet it out to various different people. The subtenants sued the main tenant and won the case. However, they were able to claim the rent in a repayment order back from the main landlord not the people they rented from.

What is rent to rent?

Rent to rent is a very new phenomenon on the rental market. There are a lot of companies that are looking to rent properties and then sublet them out for more money. However, a lot of these companies have no form of track record. Very little by way of assets and many people don’t understand that you cannot have an assured shorthold tenancy in a company name by way of a tenant. If you are approached by any of these types of companies then please be careful.

Breathing space and the mental heath crisis

You are probably not aware but there is a new scheme called Breathing space. If a tenant feels that they are unable to cope with their debts and they need help. They can go to their local authority.

The local authority can therefore suspend any current claiming of rent from the tenant for a minimum of 60 days. Suspending any possession proceedings. However, it does not extend to a guarantor.

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