Future-guessing is always dangerous but there are some likely issues on the horizon for landlords in the year ahead.
As it’s early in the year, this seems like a good time to share some of these with you. Do keep in mind though that some of what’s discussed below is subject to events and decisions later in 2018.
It’s essentially the government’s much-publicised decision to make it obligatory for virtually all let properties to have a minimum energy efficiency rating of “E” before they can be legally let.
This applies to new lettings from 2018 and existing in-place contracts from 2020. Exceptions will be rare and based on unusual circumstances.
The bottom line is simple – you need your energy performance certificate now. You also need to carry out any required remedial works to get your property up to the minimum standards if you are to be in compliance with the law later on this year.
You can read more here.
The government has stated its intention to introduce legislation in 2018 relating to what might be termed “mediation” services.
At the time of writing, much of the detail of this remains unclear but it essentially involves making it obligatory for landlords to register with an Ombudsman scheme. The Ombudsman will then mediate in cases of disputes between tenants and landlords, issuing a binding adjudication to settle the matter one way or the other.
The rogue landlord database
The government has also published a directive confirming its intention to introduce a database that will effectively “name and shame” rogue or seriously misbehaving landlords.
How this will work and whether or not it will be freely available to members of the public, have not yet been confirmed.
Landlord registration scheme
Depending on which of the home countries of the UK you live in, this might already be a legal requirement. Specifically in England, this remains something that is currently at the discretion of local councils.
Although it is difficult to be definitive, all the indications are that compulsory registration and licensing schemes in England are set to expand through 2018. That might include the validation of things such as whether or not the landlord has appropriate landlord insurance.
Mandatory periodic official inspection of properties
The government has proposed introducing three-yearly mandatory property inspections. They are also suggesting that it may become a binding requirement that landlords attend a formally constituted refresher training course.
The specifics of these proposals and the timeframes remain uncertain but it seems likely much more of this will be heard through the year ahead.
Full disclosure of property portfolios
Another important change that came in September 2017 and may affect landlords in this year means any landlord having more than four properties in their portfolio will now need to declare the full financial status of each should they apply for any further property finance.
This will potentially mean that landlords with larger property portfolios may find it more difficult to secure mortgages and other lending to support the acquisition of further properties.
Increased focus on the right to rent legislation
There is not anything necessarily new in this, as the law was introduced in 2016. It basically requires landlords to check that their tenants have the legal right to be resident in the UK.
What may be seen in 2018 is an increased focus on the enforcement of this law.
This is something landlords need to be aware of if fines are to be avoided.