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2018 is heading towards its final weeks and it is time to start planning for 2019. Next year will witness plenty of interesting changes that landlords must be aware of.

This past year has been quite a transformative year when it comes to the lettings industry. Landlords had to deal with the changes GDPR brought about and the new provisions to the Deregulation Act 2015.

2019 could introduce a wealth of new changes. What do landlords need to know ahead of 2019?

A Ban on Letting Fees Likely to Begin

The Draft Tenant Fees Bill was introduced to Parliament in November 2017 and is set to finally be introduced next year. The Bill is currently on its second reading in the House of Lords and many expect it to be introduced in spring 2019.

What should landlords know about the Bill?

The main change is the ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants.

If the Bill is introduced, the tenant will only be charged for:

  • Rent
  • Deposit
  • Contractual penalties

As a landlord, you won’t be able to charge for things like inventories or referencing. The big criticism is that the Bill will force landlords to push up rents or that the letting agent industry will suffer, leading to job loss.

The other major change in the Bill is in dealing with deposits. Tenancy deposits would be limited to a total of six weeks’ rent. Holding deposits wouldn’t be allowed to exceed one week’s rent. In terms of how to hold the deposits, landlords will still have to keep them in approved deposit protection schemes.

The penalty for breaking the tenant fees ban would first lead to a civil offence, which would attract a fine of up to £5,000. Repeated offences would be treated either as a criminal matter or with a civil penalty of up to £30,000.

Find out more about the Zero Deposits option

Private Landlord Registration Possibly on the Horizon

Parliament is currently also considering a Bill that would make it mandatory for private landlords to be on a register. The Private Landlords (Registration) Bill is scheduled for a second reading at the end of October. If introduced, private landlords would have to register with an applicable landlord association.

Tenants to be Able to Prosecute Landlords Under a New Bill

Another Bill that might be introduced next year is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability of Housing Standards). The Bill is currently at the report stage and if introduced, it will require landlords to ensure the property is in a state of fitness for human habitation.

Penalties for failing could attract fines of up to £30,000 and convicted landlords would be banned for renting out homes. This Bill will help protect tenants in private properties but also social housing.

Mandatory Electrical Safety Checks Could Be Introduced

Finally, the Government has announced its intentions to add a provision to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 that would make electrical safety checks mandatory for private landlords. The provision is currently in a consultation phase so it’s unclear if it will be introduced next year.

Currently, HMOs are required to carry electrical checks every five years but this might now become mandatory for all private landlords.

Landlords will have a lot to prepare for next year. It’s crucial to be ready for these changes to ensure you don’t inadvertently break the law as these new pieces of legislation are introduced.

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By Sandra Mpouma
12 Dec 2018

Categories: Legal

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