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    2020: The Year of Property Legislation for Landlords


    2020 has been a rollercoaster year for the property market with changes occurring that no one could predict.

    However, there were certain changes to the UK property market this year that were to be expected – the amount of legislation changes affecting landlords.

    There’s been a number of legislation changes and updates that have come into fruition this year, so we’re rounding up the key changes that all landlords (and tenants!) should be more than aware of by now.

    2020: The Year of Property Legislation for Landlords

    Extension of Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act

    In March 2019, the Fitness of Human Habitation act came into force. This new act amended the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to ensure that landlords ensure their properties are fit for human habitation at the beginning of (and throughout) a tenancy.

    The purpose of the legislation is to allow tenants to begin court action directly against their landlord if their rented property is unfit for living, without involving the council. If a landlord is found in breach of contract, they may be sued for damages.

    While the act has been in place for over a year now, it was only initially in place for tenancies which began after March 2019. It was only as of March of this year, that the act is applicable to tenancies which began prior to March 2019

    Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards

    In 2018, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards were introduced. This meant that landlords of homes with an EPC rating of F and G banded homes have to make improvements before they can rent their homes out to new tenants or renew an existing tenancy agreement.

    In April 2019, the standards were updated so that landlords had to pay up to £3,500 (inc. VAT) to improve the insulation and heating of an F or G banded property, again, before it is rented out to new tenants. Previously, landlords only had to try to meet the standard if grant money was available.

    This year, however, the standards have been updated yet again. From April 1st, landlords must make improvements to all existing F & G banded properties. However, if any improvement work costs more than £3,500, landlords can apply for an exemption.

    Capital Gains Tax

    In April of this year, changes to Capital Gains Tax came into effect.

    Previously, landlords had until the next tax year to pay back the profits made on the sale of a property that is not their main home. With the new update, landlords must now pay the full amount of CGT owed on a sale within 30 days.

    Extension of Tenant Fees Act

    The tenant fees act came into force in June 2019 and applied to new tenancies created after the date.

    The act meant that landlords and letting agents cannot charge fees other than rent, deposits, holding deposits and charges. There are also additional restrictions on how much tenants must pay.

    As of June 2020, the act now applies to all existing tenancies.

    The act was introduced to prevent specific fees such as cleaning, pets, referencing, inventories, and admin. The Tenant fees act also ensures that landlords are limited in their deposit charges, limiting deposits to five weeks rent (unless the annual rent for the property exceeds 50,000).

    Landlords who fail to comply with this legislation could face financial civil penalties of up to £5000 for each offence.

    Section 21

    The biggest changes this year are of course, to Section 21.

    Covid-19 influenced a big change to the act in March which has since become law. As of the 26th of March, any references of Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 which state “two months” is to be read as if it says “six months”. This means that landlords must give tenants at least six months’ notice prior to an eviction date.

    What are your thoughts on the new legislation changes that have occurred this year? Have you been affected by them yet?

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