Landlord Bodies meet minister to discuss future of PRS

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Future of PRS:

A meeting has taken place (Thursday 8th February) to discuss future legislative changes, between the Minister for Housing & Homelessness at the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG), and the main representative bodies for landlords and letting agents in the private rented sector (PRS).

Representatives from The National Landlords’ Association (NLA), The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA Propertymark), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), met with the Minister, Heather Wheeler MP, to discuss what these organisations think should be the Government’s priorities for the PRS.

The NLA’s CEO Richard Lambert reports that the meeting was conducted with a wide-ranging discussion, touching on all aspects of the sector, from the regulation of letting agents and the banning of letting fees, to security of tenure and previous proposals to a specialised Housing Court to improve access to justice.

Mr Lambert addressed the issue of standards in the sector, welcoming the Government’s support for the Fitness for Human Habitation Bill and urged the Minister to prioritise enforcement activity to tackle the rogue operators who undercut the vast majority of good landlords and bring the sector into disrepute.

Mr Lambert says these calls echo those recently made by the NLA Chairman, Adrian Jeakings, to the Communities & Local Government Select Committee which is currently undertaking inquiries into the private rented sector and the draft Bill to ban letting fees.

The year ahead will see a great deal of change in the PRS, with plans to extend mandatory HMO licensing, consult on introducing longer tenancies, and make minimum energy efficiency standards less lenient.

Mr Lambert pressed the Minister to think beyond simplistic calls for longer tenancies, and look at how best to incentivise landlords to offer a wider range of tenancies to cater for the increasingly diverse range of what tenants may need.

Richard Lambert, said:

“I welcome the Minister’s willingness to talk to the NLA and other private rented sector representative organisations. With its self-professed focus on tackling the housing crisis, it is vital that the Government recognises and supports the prominent role that the private rented sector plays in housing over twenty percent of UK households.

“Through the forthcoming ban on letting fees and other proposals the Government has shown it is more than willing to intervene in markets when it perceives them to be failing consumers. We urge the Minister and her colleagues to work with the NLA and others to ensure that any intervention made is necessary, proportionate and maintains a fair regulatory regime within which landlords can continue to run their business.”

Fitness for Human Habitation Bill 

NLA’s written and oral evidence to the Committee

Full list of planned government consultations and changes

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Sold property but still being chased for council tax!

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Early in 2016 I obtained probate for a deceased relatives property and sold it at auction, but have just received two council tax bills for it. On checking the Land Registry entry I see that my deceased relative is still shown as the owner!

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New algorithms to calculate EPC ratings

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Many landlords have long suspected that the DCLG approved national calculation methodologies and software programs were seriously flawed when they produced EPC ratings for buildings following energy assessments.

So news that new software is being introduced which is claimed to be more accurate is to be welcomed by the landlord community. It could mean, according to the Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) – which has campaigned for the change – that up to 80,000 private landlord rentals could be positively re-rated. It could make the difference between spending thousands on improvements to reach MEES standards, and not having to do so.

The new rules concerning Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) come into force from April 2018. After April any new tenancy (which includes renewal tenancies) will require the property to have a minimum energy performance (EPC) rating of E. The new rules will also apply to all existing tenancies (periodic tenancies) from 1st April 2020.

The RLA claims to have been campaigning on the software issue for six years on the basis of empirical evidence from practitioners that the government software used to calculate EPCs was flawed.

Following the update the new RdSAP software issued to energy assessors should be more accurate and will in some cases change the EPC rating to a higher value.

According to the RLA these are the changes landlords can expect to see:

  • ‘Non-traditional’ solid wall properties are expected to see the biggest improvement. These homes will typically have walls made of 330mm (13”) thick stone, mixed earth or brick and stone.
  • Those with traditional 228mm (9”) solid brick walls will see a lower but still significant improvement.
  • Filled cavity walled premises will see a reduced EPC rating, but it is very unlikely that many could go down into Band F.
  • Homes with low rated Band G are unlikely there will be much movement.

Since it is 10 years since EPCs were introduced many properties will be coming up for renewal in any case, so a new assessment will not be an extra cost even if the property does not rate well enough to increase its rating.

However, since the whole exercise is to improve energy efficiency and reduce heating costs for tenants, landlords should look carefully at how their properties’ energy consumption can be reduced, with minimal improvement costs to them.

RLA company secretary, Richard Jones, says:

“This change comes after six years of campaigning by the RLA for a proper scientific appraisal of the insulation properties of walls.

“This led to the Building Research Establishment undertaking research that demonstrated that solid walls in particular provide better insulation for homes than was shown in the EPC rating.

“We are delighted the new software is now in use, however time is getting short and we would advise anyone who wants to get a new EPC carried out to do so as quickly as possible.

“It is also worth being mindful of the fact that the minimum requirements may change in the future and to consider including further energy efficiency improvements if you are carrying out renovation works.”

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