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Changes to Housing Legislation 2015: Advice for Landlords

Tenancy Deposit Scheme Changes

A bill will be passed this year which means that landlords will not need to renew their Tenancy Deposit Scheme certificates after the initial tenancy term ends if the same tenants decide to stay in the property. So, for example, if your tenants go on to a periodic tenancy after their six- or twelve-month contract, their deposit will still be covered by the original certificate.

Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors to be Compulsory

As of October 2015, landlords will be legally obliged to have fitted, working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors at their properties (the latter only applies to properties with a gas supply). Even if you have alarms and detectors fitted, remember that you must test them at the start of each tenancy, or you could be fined as much as £5,000. This is a response to the number of fire- and gas-related incidents that occur in rented homes, which often result in injuries and even death.

Empty Home Tax 

Although a ruling on this matter has not yet been announced, the Institute of Public Policy Research recommends that those who have a second, empty home should be taxed by law (some local authorities already charge extra council tax on long-term empty properties). This is to try and overcome the current situation in which the nation is experiencing a housing shortage, despite the fact that there are over 600,000 empty homes in Britain today. We can perhaps expect announcements to be made on this matter after the General Election in May.

Immigration Checks and ‘Right to Rent’

The ‘right to rent’ scheme is being rolled out across the UK this year. This means that landlords will need to check whether their tenants have the right to live in the UK before a tenancy agreement can be signed. For those arranging tenancies through a letting agency, this shouldn’t prove a hassle as checking tenants’ residency status will simply be part of the usual vetting process. If you arrange your own tenancies, however, you will need to check tenants’ passports or resident permits and, in some cases, you may need to double check with the Home Office. Visit www.gov.uk for more information.

 The Benefits Overhaul and Universal Credit

If, as a landlord, you receive some of your tenants’ rent directly from the Government in the form of benefits, this is set to change with the introduction of Universal Credit. Under the new scheme, all benefits payments (Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credits, Income Support, for example) will be paid directly to the claimant in one lump sum. This means that your tenants will have to pay their housing benefit to you in future, rather than it coming directly from the source.

Are you confused about property legislation? At Julie Twist Properties, we are always open for you to ask our expert advice. Contact us today to speak to an experienced agent.

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