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Guide to letting legally: upcoming key dates

Legislation can be a minefield for landlords with regulations and laws relating to the private rental sector. The regular updates and changes to legislation can be easy to miss, which can be costly for landlords who fail to comply.

Electrical Safety Regulations and Client Money Protection regulations' deadlines are fast approaching. In contrast, changes to stamp duty deadlines have been extended, and dates are still to be confirmed for the Abolition of Section 21.

Below, the Bramleys team have put together essential dates and legislations that you should be aware of in 2021.

Confirmed legislation dates

1 April: Client Money Protection regulations

The Government has given lettings and property agents an extra year to comply with the mandatory client money protection regulations, with all agents having to comply by 1 April.

Agents must join a 'client money protection scheme' in England's private rented sector and hold clients' money in an account with a bank or building society authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. They are also required to have a certificate confirming the scheme's membership, providing it to anyone who asks, free of charge.

1 April: Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector

If you're a landlord, you should have an electrical safety compliance certificate for every property you own. From 1 April 2021, all existing specified private tenancies will need to comply with the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector. Landlords must ensure all electrical wiring and fixed electrical installations are inspected, tested and signed off by a qualified electrician every five years, including wiring, sockets, fuse box and other fixed electrical parts.

31 May: Changes to eviction legislation

Due to the pandemic, landlords with Assured Shorthold Tenancies have to give tenants six months' notice when serving a Section 21 notice for possession.

The Government announced that they would further extend this eviction ban from 31 March 2021 until 31st May. The regulations state that it is unlawful to attend a residential property to either carry out an eviction or give notice of removal unless specific exceptional circumstances apply.

Exceptional circumstances also include domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour, and more than six months' worth of rent arrears.

30 June: Immigration Right to Rent

If you're a landlord currently in the UK, you must check all tenants' immigration status to determine whether they can legally rent their property. New regulations from 1 January 2021 will allow non-UK nationals in England to evidence their status for Right to Rent through a digital Home Office check. The new system means that digital checks can be conducted permanently via video call, with no need for letting agents review documents.

As a transition measure, landlords can continue to accept passports and national identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of permission during this period until 30 June 2021.

A Short Guide to Right to Rent has been published, and you can view a tenant's/applicant's right to rent here.

30 June: Stamp Duty Holiday

The Government announced an extension to the previous stamp duty holiday deadline of 31 March in the spring budget. The extension is part of plans to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. If you live in England and Northern Ireland, you must complete your purchase by 30 June 2021 to qualify for no stamp duty on a residential property bought for up to £500,000.

1 July: Stamp Duty Holiday

From 1 July 2021, no stamp duty will be charged on a residential property bought for up to £250,000 until 30 September.

30 September: Stamp Duty Holiday

From 30 September, stamp duty will then return to the usual level of £125,000.

Legislation dates to be confirmed

Renters' Reform Bill

The Queen's Speech in 2019 announced a Renters' Reform Bill that will abolish the use of 'no fault' evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and supporting landlords in regaining possession of their properties under Section 8.

However, in 2020 the Government's focus was on protecting UK citizens during the outbreak introducing extended notice periods and preventing evictions at the pandemic's height on public health grounds.

In a recent podcast, "Listen up landlords", NRLA's chief executive Ben Beadle says that it is doubtful that the Renters Reform Bill will be introduced anytime soon. We will continue to monitor this and keep you updated.

Regulation of property agents – England only

With no date for any new regulation to come into effect, The Regulation of Property Agents' (RoPA) have made recommendations for a new regulatory framework for property agents.

The recommendations include:

  • An independent property-agent regulator
  • A mandatory and legally enforceable Code of Practice
  • Mandatory qualifications for property agents and clarification of processes and charges for leaseholders

Increase to capital gains tax

In the spring budget, Rishi Sunak recommended the increase of capital gains tax (CGT) in the UK to help support the economy from the effects of Covid-19 - an increase could affect those who hold second homes or assets.

Domestic smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

The Government continued to protect residents from fire and carbon monoxide risks in their homes. Consultation on making several changes to regulations, including the requirement to have Carbon Monoxide detectors for gas appliances, closed on 11 January 2021. No date as yet for feedback results, but we will continue monitoring this and update you as we hear more.

How can Bramleys help you?

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure your properties are safe and secure for tenants. If any issues arise, these will need to be managed and dealt with promptly.

At Bramleys, we provide a comprehensive letting service and offer a free no-obligation advice session to discuss the basic requirements of letting your property and any pitfalls, which may be encountered.

If you are thinking of buying a property to let or letting out an existing property, get in touch with our lettings team today.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram for updates.

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