The £2,752,893 Ticking Time Bomb for Tamworth Landlords

I just love looking over and keeping up to date the 108 pieces of legislation that govern the rental of residential property in the UK”  

…No Tamworth Landlord, ever

If you are one of the 1,287 Tamworth landlord’s that manages your own property, would it surprise you to know that there are 108 separate pieces of legislation that govern the rental of private houses to tenants. Oh, and on top of the 108 pieces of law, there are further 300+ regulations in the mix. Whilst Tamworth landlords may once have preferred to manage their Tamworth buy-to-let properties themselves to boost their profits, many Tamworth landlords are starting to see this as a false economy.

In the last four years, an additional 495 landlords in Tamworth have converted from self-managed to having their property managed by a letting agent in Tamworth, taking the total number of properties under management in Tamworth to 2,013 (out of a total of 3,300 private rental properties in Tamworth).

Now, don’t get me wrong, self-managing your Tamworth rental property can be a very fulfilling experience, allowing you, as a Tamworth landlord, to build a deep relationship with your tenant and your emergency 24 hour plumber, builder (happy to do small jobs at a drop of a hat), decorators, first name terms with their deposit provider, lawyer and EPC provider to name but a few. (Wow!)

Also, did you know if your tenants deposit isn’t registered, or doesn’t continue to be registered after the end the periodic tenancy upon renewal … you could be fined up to three times your deposit? With the average rental deposit in Tamworth being £713, each self-managed landlord in Tamworth could be fined £2,139 per tenancy if the deposit isn’t currently registered. Therefore…

…if every deposit of every Tamworth self-managed landlord’s property wasn’t registered, the total fines would amount to £2,752,893

Now of course, I am not suggesting for one minute all the self-managed landlords of Tamworth haven’t registered their deposits, yet almost on a daily basis, I come across horror stories to that effect. Another two (but by no means all) hot issues that the Courts are cracking down on, are doing immigration ‘Right To Rent’ checks on all tenants (yes all tenants) and confirmation proving the tenant received the ‘How to Rent’ guide. If that second issue cannot be proved (a ‘sent’ email won’t suffice), the landlord cannot serve the Section 21 Notice, meaning the tenant cannot be served notice to vacate the property.

To many, it’s really a case of DIY or getting a qualified professional in … as those additional Tamworth landlords mentioned above have done since 2014. You might say, “Of course you are going to say all this – you are a Letting Agent”. Well the choice really comes down to your time and your knowledge. If a Tamworth landlord is not equipped, or able, to devote time keeping up-to-date of legislation and law nor doesn’t want to be bothered 24/7/365 about a blown light bulb, dripping taps, have that confrontational conversation with their tenants about missing rental payments, or arbitrate arguments and disagreements between your tenant and the neighbours, it is perhaps better to pass this accountability/responsibility onto a letting agent.

One thing I would say is all letting agents aren’t the same. Would it surprise you to know that letting agents aren’t regulated?

Tamworth landlords that do use a letting agent should not forget that passing over management to a letting agent doesn’t mean they can disregard legislation and they are still responsible for deposit/rent repayment legal directives, civil fines or action if the letting agent makes a mistake. Therefore, it’s important to pick a respectable letting agent from the start.

Nevertheless, for those Tamworth landlords that see their job as a professional landlord and want to be intricately involved in the day to day administration of their rental properties, it can be worthy pursuit.

If you are a self-managed landlord in Tamworth, and want to know if your paperwork is in order please feel free to drop me a line and I am more than happy to do an ‘MOT’ on it to ensure you are the right side of the law.

Contact me on 01827 425195 or lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk

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Ask Lorraine – I am a Tamworth landlord with an EPC dilema!

You may find this article helpful   https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/energy-performance-certificates-for-the-construction-sale-and-let-of-dwellings

Ask Lorraine ; What Documents do I need for my Tamworth property before renting it out?

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One in 31 rental properties in the Tamworth area will be illegal in 2018

As the winter months draw in and the temperature starts to drop, keeping one’s home warm is vital. Yet, with the price of gas and electricity rising quicker than a Saturn V rocket and gas, oil and electricity taking on average 4.4% of a typical Brit’s pay packet (and for those Brit’s with the lowest 10% of incomes, that rockets to an eye watering 9.7%), whether you are a tenant or homeowner, keeping your energy costs as low as possible is vital for the household budget and the environment as a whole.

For the last 10 years, every private rental property must have an Energy-Performance-Certificate (EPC) rating.  The property is given an energy rating, very similar to those on washing machines and fridges with the rainbow coloured graph, of between A to G (A being the most efficient and G the worst). New legislation comes in to force next spring (2018) for English and Welsh private landlords making it illegal to let a property that does not meet a certain energy rating. After the 1st of April next year, any new tenant moving into a private rented property or an existing tenant renewing their tenancy must have property with an energy performance rating of E or above on the property’s EPC and the new law will apply for all prevailing tenancies in the spring of 2020. After April 2018, if a landlord lets a property in the ‘F’ and ‘G’ ratings (i.e. those properties with the worst energy ratings) Trading Standards could fine the landlord up to £4,000.

Personally, I have grave apprehensions that many Tamworth landlords may be totally unaware that their Tamworth rental properties could fall below these new legal minimum requirements for energy efficiency benchmarks. Whilst some households may require substantial works to get their Tamworth property from an F/G rating to an E rating or above, my experience is most properties may only need some minor work to lift them from illegal to legal. By planning and acting now, it will mitigate the need to find tradespeople in the spring when every other Tamworth landlord will be panicking and paying top dollar for work to comply.

Whilst there is money and effort involved in upgrading the energy efficiency of rental property, a property that is energy efficient will have greater appeal to tenants and other buy-to-let landlords/investors and this will enable you to obtain higher rents and sale price (when you come to sell your investment).

So, how many properties are there in the area that are F and G rated .. well quite a few in fact. Looking at the whole of the Tamworth Borough Council area, of the 3,476 privately rented properties, there are ..

89 rental properties in the F banding

23 rental properties in the G banding

That means just over one in 31 rental properties in the Tamworth and surrounding area has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. From April next year it will be illegal to rent out those homes rated F and G homes with a new tenancy.

Talking with the Energy Assessors that carry out our EPC’s, they tell me most of a building’s heat is lost through draughty windows/doors or poor insulation in the roof and walls. So why not look at your EPC and see what the assessor suggested to improve the efficiency of your property? I can find the EPC of every rental property in Tamworth, so irrespective of whether you are a client of mine or not, don’t hesitate to contact me via email (or phone) if you need some guidance on finding out the EPC rating or need a trustworthy contractor that can help you out?

if you enjoyed reading my article, feel free to take a look my other online resources below:

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Ask Lorraine – Should I be given a copy of an EPC for the room I rent

Ask Lorraine – Myself and 4 other males rent a room from our Landlord on a room by room basis. He pays all the bills (they  arrive in his name) and we rent our rooms individually from him. I’m hearing that we should have been given a copy of the EPC when we moved in, is this correct?

Thanks Simon

Energy performance certificate
EPC

Lorraine’s Answer –  Hello Simon,

Legislation refers to an EPC being required  just for “buildings” and mentions giving an EPC to the prospective tenant of a “self-contained letting”  Your dwelling is not self-contained i.e. facilities are shared, as in a HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy)  So according to government guidance your type of dwelling does not require an EPC.

Some landlords do however have EPC’s carried out on HMO’s should they ever need to issue a section 21 notice – regulations state Energy Performance of Buildings is now required in order to serve a valid section 21 notice.

Only a Judge can create a legal precedent on the interpretation of legislation and a Judge is only going to be bound by the wording of the statute. I think this is a grey area and guidelines may well be amended in the future to include “bedsits”. Let’s wait for the first test case to come to court!

My advice for any Landlord  where the house is individual room lets, get an EPC for the whole house, it’s valid for 10 years and at a cost of approx £80.00, it hardly breaks the bank – Belt and Braces approach.

Give a copy to prospective tenants and also to whoever becomes the actual tenant.

Until next week

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Ask Lorraine – What Documents do I need for my Tamworth property before renting it out?

🙋  Landlord’s Question: 

“Dear Lorraine,

I have just bought my first buy to let property in Tamworth, it’s  a two bed semi detached in Amington.  I’ve find out what type of tenants I can attract to the property and also what rent I can hope to achieve.

I’m still rather perplexed with all the legislation over renting and what documents I need inorder to rent my property out.

What documents and checks do I need to do before I can move my  tenants in?

Angel’’

What Documents do I need for my Tamworth property before renting it out?
What Documents do I need for my Tamworth property before renting it out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lorraines Answer

Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step of becoming a landlord, however with it comes lots of legal hoops to jump through to ensure the property you are renting is safe for your tenants to live in.

You will find some  are some legally required while others at present, are recommended as best practice.

Gas Safety Certificate

As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to instruct a Gas Safety registered engineer to carry out the checks and provide the certification. You need to give this certificate to the tenant when they move in. You also need to make sure that  the gas  safety check is carried out annually with a copy being given to the tenant.

Legionella Risk Assessment

Landlords are responsible for keeping properties safe and free from health hazards, including from the risk of  legionella.

Legionellosis which is found in water  is the collective name given to the pneumonia-like illness caused by legionella bacteria. This includes the most serious legionnaires’ disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever.

As a landlord, your responsibility is to have a competent person carry out a risk assessment to assess the risk of exposure to Legionella. Many landlords choose to carry out the assessment  themselves, however the buck then stops at their doorstep. If you decide to carry out the risk assessment yourself please ensure you know what you are doing. For the sake of approx. £50 It may be safer to use a contractor to carry this out.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

The energy performance certificate is required if you sell or rent a property. You should have one from the purchase of your recent buy to let property.

The certificate is to check the energy efficiency of your property. They last for ten years and grade your property on their efficiency.

Regulations came into force as of  1st April 2016, whereby tenants can request consent from their landlords to carry out energy efficiency improvements to their properties. The request should have no cost implications to the landlord, unless of course, the landlord agrees to pay towards the works.

From April 2018, your property will need to have a minimum rating of E, which means a lot of older and poorly insulated properties may struggle to achieve the  E or above rating.

Electrical Certificates or PAT Tests

Electrical Certificates are  currently best practice, however it is legally required that any electrical installation is safe and in full working order at the beginning and during the  length of the tenancy.

Recommendations suggest having a professional carry out the electrical certificate every five years.

In single let residential property, there is no current  legal requirement  to carry out a PAT test. If you do supply portable appliances and don’t have a PAT test carried out, you should carry out visual inspections to ensure there are no cracks or burn marks to sockets and the wiring is not damaged.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

A smoke alarm is required on each floor level, they must be checked to ensure they are in proper working order at the start of a new tenancy.

Carbon Monoxide (CO2) alarms are only legally required where there is a solid fuel burning appliance . As gas is not a solid fuel, there is no legal requirement. Best practice would be to install a CO2 alarm within close proximity to a gas boiler, manufacturers instructions will advise.

So a lot to think about and sort before renting out your Tamworth property.

Good luck Angel and enjoy your property journey.

Until Next Week.

If you are looking for an agent with experience that can help you prepare your property and find the best tenants for it, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

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Energy Performance Certificate – How will this effect Tamworth’s Landlords?

In April 2018, residential private properties will need to have a minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of E or it will be illegal to rent them out to tenants. The change from April 2018 will only apply to new tenancies and renewals. For existing tenancies the regulations will not apply until April 2020.

Local authorities will be responsible for enforcing the regulations, whether Tamworth BC have the time or manpower to do this added task,  I hardly think so! The local authorities  will have the power to serve a notice and request that a landlord provides documentation to prove compliance. Landlords who do not comply with these new regulations could find themselves with a hefty £5,000 fine.

Energy Performance Certificate
Energy Performance Certificate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Properties where the EPC rating is an F or G  are considered substandard  and will either need improvements carried out or will have to cease to be rented out. With only 8 months away to legislation, landlords are reminded to look at implementing improvement works sooner rather than later.

Works need to be cost effective for the landlord and permissible but landlords are at liberty to carry out works to an even higher standard, should they wish. 
As always there are exemptions to the rule –
  • The landlord’s tenant withholds consent for the works.
  • The landlord  was required to obtain a third party’s permission to undertake improvements, and the permission was denied. Or the third party imposed unreasonable conditions.
  • A qualified independent surveyor considers that the works will cause a capital devaluation of the property of more than 5%.

Exemption for listed buildings or buildings in a conservation area has not been made clear but it is hoped, when the  Government publish specific guidance for landlords in October this year, it will  confirm that listed building are exempt from the change. 

As with all Government policies until they are actually published there is no saying what they have deferred and if further exemptions are to be applied. So landlords it is a waiting game but  if you do decide to commence with improvements, it would probably be best not to commit lots of money and big improvements until all has been made clear.

 

Unhappy with your Property Manager? The best time to switch Letting Agents is mid-tenancy. Take us up on our offer and allow us to take care of the switching process. http://www.hallandthompson.co.uk or call Lorraine, Jackie or Jody on 01827 425195.

If you enjoyed reading my article, feel free to take a look my other online resources below:

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