Leaseholders and renters to benefit from new code of practice

New rules and regulations buy-to-let landlords need to be aware of

With a number of new regulations in the private rented sector, it’s more important than ever for buy-to-let landlords to know and keep up with the latest rules, regulations and best practice.

In recent years, the buy-to-let market has become more professionalised. While increased regulation is not always popular, it does mean there’s more accountability within the private rented sector. And this is further improving the standards of the sector.

There have been a number of recent regulation changes buy-to-let landlords need to be aware of. Here are some of the new rules all landlords need to know about.

Electrical safety standards

Landlords need to ensure that all of their privately rented properties comply with the new electrical safety regulations. This is part of the government’s drive to improve standards across the private rented sector.

These new rules are in place to ensure all fixed electrical installations and wiring are checked and tested by a qualified electrician. This includes sockets, wiring, fuse box and any other fixed electrical parts.

If any remedial work is necessary to fix any faults, landlords must hire a qualified person to carry this work out. Once all electrical fixtures and fittings are compliant, landlords should obtain a written report and supply this to their tenants.

Updated Right to Rent rules

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Right to Rent checks have been undertaken by video call with a scanned photo or copy of the original documents since March 2020. As things stand, letting agents and landlords will need to revert to in-person checks from 1 September. The exception is checks for tenants with a Home Office status.

There are new changes for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals that come into effect from 1 July due to Brexit. Moving forward, Right to Rent checks will be based on immigration status instead of national identification.

Prospective tenants who successfully applied for a UK visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme will need to provide evidence of their immigration status. The government has a code of practice on how Right to Rent checks must be carried out.

Changing notice periods and eviction notices

Throughout the pandemic, the government put a ban on evictions and added longer notice periods of six months in England. Eviction notice periods have been lowered. Since 1 June, landlords must give tenants at least four months’ notice for repossession.

There are also new forms for Section 8 and 21 notices. These documents are always available on the government’s website. Landlords must ensure they provide the most up-to-date version when serving notice.

As things stand, notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October. This will be subject to progress with the roadmap out of lockdown and public health advice.

Prepare for future changes

There have been many changes for buy-to-let landlords in recent years. And additional reforms are coming forward in the private rented sector later this year.

Announced in the Queen’s Speech, the government’s consultation response on reforming tenancy law and abolishing Section 21 is expected to come forward later this year. Proposals of the lifetime tenancy deposit scheme is also likely to come forward.

A white paper on renting reform will be published in autumn of this year. After that, legislation will likely follow shortly afterwards. Because of this, buy-to-let landlords will need to prepare for these changes.

Whether you’re an experienced property investor or a small first-time buy-to-let landlord, the rules apply to everyone. It’s important that landlords continue to keep ahead of updated rules and regulations.

Angela Davey, president of ARLA Propertymark, says: “Whether you’re an accidental landlord or a professional one, the same rules apply, so it’s essential you’re up to speed before marketing your property.

“You are ultimately allowing a stranger into your biggest asset and therefore it is critical that you do your research, keeping in mind all parties with a vested interest in the property. If you haven’t complied with all these important steps at the start of the tenancy, you may find yourself in a vulnerable position should anything go wrong.”

There is a wealth of knowledge available to buy-to-let landlords. Bodies such as the ARLA Propertymark, National Residential Landlords Association and British Landlords Association are good places to start. The government also offers a raft of resources on rules and regulations.

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