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Our review of 2019

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The year 2019, like much of the decade, was dominated by political turbulence – repeated attempts by Theresa May to pass a Brexit bill, a Tory leadership contest, more wrangling over Brexit and the first winter general election in nearly a century.

review of 2019

Following Boris Johnson’s success at the polls, with a mandate to ‘get Brexit done’, commentators have welcomed a return of stability to the property sector. But after a decade of considerable change in the private rented sector, more could still be to come. The Conservative election manifesto pledged to follow through on an earlier commitment to end Section 21 evictions, as well as promising to introduce lifetime deposits and offer a fairer rental market for tenants.

To find out more about what 2019 meant for landlords and tenants, read our review of the year, month by month.

January

Top tax tips for landlords in 2019

Top tax tips for landlords in 2019

The past few years have seen many changes affecting landlords and the tax they pay, from alterations in income tax relief to new stamp duty levies on buy-to-let. As a landlord it’s likely you will need to pay tax on some of your property income. To help you make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest tax regulations Landlord Today has put together some New Year tips to help landlords avoid the property tax pitfalls – here’s a selection:

Keep on top of your paperwork

Make sure all your records are up-to-date and accurate. Being organised with all the information to hand won’t just help you complete a tax return, it’s a legal requirement to retain certain information.

Make sure you’re registered for self-assessment

You need to complete a tax return if your gross income is over £10,000, or if your net profits exceed £2,500. Even if your income is below these thresholds you should contact HMRC to discuss your situation over the phone. They may still require you to complete a tax return.

Understand your allowable expenses

You can reduce your tax bill by claiming for allowable expenses, which include the legal and agency fees for buying the property as well as repair costs. You must keep clear records of all the money you spend.

If you’re new to buy-to-let it’s important to note that your initial outlay on furniture is not an allowable expense. You can, however, claim tax relief on like-for-like replacement furniture as long as it’s for the use of your tenants and the old items are being replaced.

To read our full article – please click here

 

Government warned about taxing landlords out of business

Government warned about taxing landlords out of business

The government is in danger of taxing landlords out of the market and should allow more time for new policies to bed in before introducing further change, according to the National Landlords Association (NLA).

The association argues that excessive change could lead to the loss of good landlords, making life difficult and driving up costs for people looking for decent, affordable home to rent.

According to NLA research most UK landlords (79%) are only paying interest on their mortgages, rather than seeking to pay off the loan. This is attributed to the rising costs of running a lettings business, of which tenants and the wider public are frequently unaware.

To read our full article – please click here

 

February

New electrical safety rules for landlords

Don’t let a DIY job end in a trip to A&E

The government has announced moves to tighten the electrical safety rules for the private rental sector. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will introduce mandatory five-year electrical installation checks in England as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The changes will be introduced in two phases, with letting agents and landlords having six months to become familiar with the new legislation.

According to the government, these new rules are part of efforts to drive up standards in the private rented sector.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler, said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure in their own home. While measures are already in place to crack down on the small minority of landlords who rent out unsafe properties, we need to do more to protect tenants.

To read our full article – please click here

 

Landlords warned their EPC certificates could be unlawful

Landlords warned their EPC certificates could be unlawful

A new report claims that up to 2.5 million UK landlords could be breaking the law by having an inaccurate Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) for their property. Among them are tens of thousands, whose properties could fall below the E-rated minimum legal standard for rentals

According to the report, from property technology firm Spec, EPCs have been wrongly recorded due to inaccurate measurement of the properties’ size and use of outdated techniques – with the calculation out by more than 10% in a quarter of properties.

According to research by Spec, most Domestic Energy Assessors use old-fashioned techniques to measure floorspace, producing an average discrepancy of 8.6% or 87 square feet. This has a s significant impact on the accuracy of the EPC because a change in area of as little as 1% can alter the overall rating.

To read our full article – please click here

 

March

Government and lenders act on benefits discrimination

Evicting a tenant 

The government is calling for an end to ‘No DSS’ property adverts, at the same time as pledging £19.5 million to help councils support people at risk of homelessness.

Ministers will meet industry bodies in an effort to clamp down on discrimination in the private rented sector. The move follows research, which shows that, while a fifth of private tenant households receive housing benefit, half of landlords are unwilling to rent to benefit recipients.

Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler, said that such adverts could be banned, adding: “I will be meeting key stakeholders to tackle the practice of No DSS, to underline the need for immediate change.”

To read our full article – please click here

 

Advice for landlords as the Homes Act becomes law

Advice for landlords as the Homes Act becomes law

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act came into force on 20 March 2019, giving tenants the right to sue landlords whose properties fail to come up to scratch.

The act obliges landlords to ensure that properties are ‘fit for habitation’ – that they have good sanitation, adequate ventilation and access to natural light. It also covers issues including damp, presence of asbestos, overcrowding and problems with the water supply.

All tenancies of less than seven years are covered by the act; these are the majority. New and renewing tenancies, signed after 20 March, will be subject to the legislation immediately. Existing fixed-term tenancies will fall under the requirements of the act when they are renewed. Periodic tenancies have until 20 March 2020 to become compliant.

To read our full article – please click here

 

April

Could new rule mean the end of gas boilers?

Could new rule mean the end of gas boilers?

The government has announced a ban on gas boilers in new-build homes from 2025, in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

There are no plans to require landlords to change the form of heating in existing properties. However, the move marks the start of a process that could see oil and gas boilers phased out in the long term; replaced by renewable heating systems, which are easier on the planet.

The decision, by the chancellor Philip Hammond, follows advice from independent advisory organisation, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which wants to see oil and gas boilers replaced by renewable heating systems.

With approximately 14% of greenhouse gas emissions coming from homes, the CCC says that a major change in domestic heating is needed, if we are to meet the UK’s climate change target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050.

To read our full article – please click here

 

Government to end no fault evictions

No fault evictions

The government has announced consultation on scrapping Section 21 no-fault evictions, in favour of a speedier court system, which would help landlords repossess homes where they have a legitimate cause.

Ministers believe that Section 21, which is hard to challenge in the courts, is a leading cause of homelessness. It is also believed that Section 21 notices are used for so-called ‘revenge evictions’ against tenants, who have complained about an aspect of their rental home.

The proposals were announced by the Prime Minister, Theresa May. She said: “Millions of responsible tenants could still be uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification.

“This is wrong – and today we’re acting by preventing these unfair evictions. This important step will not only protect tenants from unethical behaviour, but also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve.”

To read our full article – please click here

 

May

Fear of property shortage as quarter of landlord’s plan to sell

Property for Sale

One in four landlords is looking to sell property over the coming year, according to a survey by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

The RLA surveyed just under 2,500 landlords for the study. Of the respondents, 17% said they will sell one property this year and 8.5% plan to sell two or more.

David Smith, the RLA’s policy director, said: “All the talk of longer tenancies will mean nothing if the homes to rent on not there in the first place.

“The government’s tax increases on the sector are already making it difficult for tenants to find a place to live, with many landlords not renewing tenancies.”

He also claimed that plans to abolish Section 21 eviction notices could lead more landlords to leave the sector.

To read our full article – please click here

 

Older investors look to buy-to-let in retirement

Older investors look to buy-to-let in retirement

More over 55s are investing in buy-to-let as a means of boosting their income in retirement, according to a new study,

Figures from specialist buy-to-let mortgage broker, Commercial Trust reveal that increasing numbers of older investors are applying for loans.

According to the data, there was a small increase in applications (0.03%) in the 25 to 34 age bracket from 2017 to 2018.

However, Commercial Trust reported a 4% increase in the proportion of buy-to-let purchases and re-mortgages among the over-55s and there was a 5.43% increase in applications by people aged 65 to 75.

To read our full article – please click here

 

June

RLA urges rethink of indefinite tenancy proposal

Rethink of indefinite tenancy proposal

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has asked housing charity, Shelter to back its call for dedicated housing courts to deal with repossessions in England’s private rented sector.

The RLA has also urged a rethink on a proposal, by Shelter, that England should adopt the indefinite tenancies introduced in Scotland in December 2017.

In a report released on 17 June, Shelter suggests that England could provide private tenants with the same indefinite security of tenure as north of the border, making ‘no-fault’ evictions no longer possible.

But according to David Smith, policy director for the RLA, the proposal doesn’t take account of key differences between England and Scotland: “The only reason the Scottish model has worked is because a properly funded and staffed housing court was established to cope with the dramatic increase in repossession cases needing to be heard.

To read our full article – please click here

 

July

Landlords call on leadership candidates to back 5-point plan

As Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson battle it out for the roles of conservative leader, and prime minister, landlords are calling on the candidates to listen to the private rented sector.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has written to both candidates, warning that policies, such as removing section 21 no-fault evictions, will be damaging to tenants by reducing the supply of homes to rent.

David Smith, policy director at the RLA said: “The new conservative prime minister needs to reconsider the approach to the private rented sector. Otherwise the situation for tenants will just get worse as they face less choice and higher rents because of a growing shortage of properties.”

The RLA has proposed a five-point plan, including a review of taxation that would bring a boost to the sector.

To read our full article – please click here

 

Landlords call for dedicated housing court

calls for dedicated housing court

Nine out of ten landlords support the creation of dedicated housing courts, according to new research from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

The association is calling on the new Justice Minister, Robert Buckland to establish a single, properly funded and staffed court to deal with housing issues.

In one of the largest surveys of landlords and letting agents, the RLA found that 79% of landlords, who had used the courts to repossess property, expressed dissatisfaction with the process, with 91% supporting the creation of a dedicated housing court.

To read our full article – please click here

 

August

Landlords warned about new Right to Rent loophole

Landlords warned about new Right to Rent loophole

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is calling for the controversial Right to Rent scheme to be scrapped, following new official guidance, which could leave landlords open to prosecution.

Right to Rent requires landlords to conduct identity checks on tenants, to ensure their immigration status allows them to lawfully rent in the UK. Knowingly letting a property to someone who doesn’t meet the criteria could result in a prison sentence of up to five years.

A court judgement, earlier this year, stated that Right to Rent breached human rights law because it could lead to racial discrimination.

To read our full article – please click here

 

Mayor wants rent controls to help disenfranchised voters

Mayor wants rent controls to help disenfranchised voters

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has made a renewed call for rent controls in London, following a City Hall report showing that private renters are less likely to register to vote in elections.

The analysis revealed that areas of London with the highest number of private renters had the lowest proportion of citizens registered to vote. In Westminster, where just 64% of the population is registered to vote, 40% of households live in privately rented accommodation.

Nationally, figures from the Electoral Commission show that 94% of owner-occupiers are registered to vote, compared to 63% of private renters.

To read our full article – please click here

 

September

Rents increase following tenant fees ban

Tenants in the UK’s private rented sector have seen rents increase to a record high, according to figures for July from the industry body, Arla Propertymark. The data, supplied by letting agents, reveals a rent rise for the third consecutive month and follows the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act earlier this year.

According to David Cox, chief executive of Arla Propertymark: “Following the Tenant Fees Act coming into force in June, rents have continued to rise, which we believed would happen. The fees agents have been banned from charging are still being paid for by tenants, however, it’s now through their rent, rather than upfront costs.”

To read our full article – please click here

 

October

Calls for housing benefit increase to tackle homelessness

 

Homeless charities are calling on the government to end a freeze on housing benefits after new figures show that people on low incomes are priced out of 94% of properties in the private rented sector.

An analysis of property advertisements by the National Housing Federation found that families receiving housing benefit could only afford the rent on 7.5% of the 75,000 homes available in the sector.

Meanwhile, a poll of 4,000 people across the UK, conducted for Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that three quarters of people believe benefits should go up in line with rents, in an effort to prevent homelessness.

To read our full article – please click here

 

Most UK tenants are happy to rent, study finds

Most UK tenants are happy to rent, study finds

Most UK private tenants are happy renting with less than half looking to buy property in the near future, a new survey has found. The research, from buy-to-let lender, Landbay surveyed 2,000 private sector tenants about their needs and aspirations.

The survey found that on average tenants are prepared to wait four years to buy a property, but that 33% of tenants would be happy to remain renting permanently.

Looking at the data by age group, older tenants, aged over 55, feel happiest remaining as tenants (64%). Only 13% of this age group expressed a wish to buy a home any time soon.

In the younger age groups, 46% of those aged 35 to 44 and 64% of those aged 25 to 34 are keen to become homeowners. Women renters were also more interested in buying than men (47% compared to 34%).

To read our full article – please click here

 

November

Emergency repairs cost UK landlords £4.5 billion

More than half of UK landlords needed to call an emergency contractor to one of their properties in the past year, according to new research, at a cost of £4.5 billion.

The data, from Direct Line for Business, revealed that 53% of landlords needed emergency assistance for issues ranging from fire and flood to faulty plumbing and pest infestations. On average, landlords needed a contractor every three months, the equivalent 4.7 million callouts a year.

The tenants affected needed to move out of their homes for an average of 8.5 days. Emergencies requiring tenants to leave their homes were most often plumbing-related, followed by electrical faults, gas emergencies, an escape of water and pest infestations.

To read our full article – please click here

 

Landlords warned about the ‘silent killer’

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

It is colourless, odourless and tasteless, but is responsible for around 60 deaths a year in England and Wales – so it’s no surprise that carbon monoxide (CO) is often dubbed the silent killer.

It is currently Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, aimed at raising awareness about the gas, which can prove deadly very quickly.

It is also a chance to warn private sector landlords of the dangers of CO and reminded them about their legal duties to keep tenants safe.

Landlords must make sure that a carbon monoxide detector is installed in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood burning stove. While it is not a legal requirement, installing a CO detector in any homes with gas appliances is also recommended. You will need to test the detector before the start of a new tenancy.

To read our full article – please click here

Neil Jennings

Neil background is in marketing and business development and has over 20 years experience in the field. He runs Asset Grove and is involved in the marketing strategy for most of our campaigns.

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