There have been a lot of changes for landlords in the private rental sector this year with the introduction of new legislation and regulations. If you are an existing landlord or considering buying property to rent, here’s a summary of some of the most significant changes and what they could mean for you. 

Safe and secure rental properties 

In March last year new rules were introduced to make sure that rented homes are safe and secure (Fitness for Human Habitation Act). Of course, that’s not a bad thing and, in fact, the legislation doesn’t create any new responsibilities. However, even the most responsible landlords should be aware that since March this year their tenants can take them to court to make them carry out improvement work. They can also seek damages for the whole length of their contract. 

Electrical safety inspections 

In the interests of electrical safety, new regulations came into effect in June that apply to all new tenancies. As a landlord, you must now make sure the electrical installations in your properties are inspected at least every five years. The inspections and testing must be carried out by someone who is qualified and competent. You must provide a copy of the electrical safety report to your tenants and, if asked, to the local authority. This will also be a requirement for existing tenancies from April next year. 

Energy efficiency improvements 

We all know that reducing our carbon footprint is important, so it’s not surprising that the government now requires landlords to meet minimum energy efficiency standards. Since April you can no longer rent properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. The minimum rating is now E and, if work is needed for your property to meet this standard, you will be expected to pay up to £3,500. If the work will cost more than this, you might be able to apply for an exemption

Protecting money 

New rules were introduced in April last year to make sure letting agents were members of an official Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme. These schemes protect money such as rent and deposits to make sure that landlords and tenants are compensated if an agent can’t pay money when it’s due, because they have gone into administration, for example. 
While agents were given 12 months to set up a client account following technical issues, your agent should now be a member of a recognised scheme

Changes to tenant fees 

The change that has made the most significant difference to the private rental sector is the Tenant Fees Act which, since June, covers most existing tenancies. 
Almost all fees are now banned, other than rent, deposits, holding deposits and default charges. Deposits are also capped at five weeks’ rent (or six weeks’ rent if the annual rent is £50,000 or more). 
If other fees are charged, tenants can apply to the county court to get the money back. As a landlord, you could be fined up to £5,000 for a first offence and £30,000 for any further breaches. 
Now that most of the fees tenants once paid are no longer allowed many letting agents are reconsidering their services. Some are charging additional fees to landlords or reducing the level of service they offer. 
As a family-run letting agency Letting Genie is dedicated to delivering high quality support to landlords. We remain committed to providing the same standard of personal, friendly and professional service. 

Please contact us if you would like to know more. 

Tagged as: landlords, legislation
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