Energy theft, property prices, and a plan for landlords to pay their tenants’ council tax …

Posted: 2nd Jul 2019

Property and all things related to it are rarely out of the news. Here are just a few of the current news stories you may be interested in …

Energy theft – pulling the plug

According to a report by UK Power, every year sees an estimated 25,000 incidents of energy theft and a further 3,300 cases of theft and attempted theft of gas.

Not only does that cost the UK economy some £500 million annually – which works out to be at least £20 for every individual a year – it also results in two fatalities and 36 injuries.

In an article on the 6th of June, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) drew attention to the temptation of some tenants – and even some landlords – to try their hand at this dangerous and costly method of stealing energy. The ARLA urges anyone who suspects a tenant or neighbour of energy theft to report their suspicions to Crime Stoppers’ dedicated energy safe reporting hotline.

Those guilty of this crime face the prospect of up to five years in prison and a fine of £2,000.

Property prices set to rise by 4.8% over the next six months

Landlords and buy to let property investors benefit from rising house prices – in terms of both the potential for increased rental income and capital gains. So, it comes as good news that the majority of homeowners (81%) expect to see an average 4.8% increase in the value of their property during the course of this year.

The good news was reported by Landlord Today on the 11th of June.

New plan wants landlords’ to pay renters’ council tax

Amid the present party political upheavals and prospects of a general election, the Labour Party is unveiling what it brands as radical changes likely to have a major impact on buy to let landlords.

In support of the party’s intention to reintroduce rent controls, the emerging manifesto also includes plans to make landlords pay council tax on behalf of their tenants.

By relieving tenants of the need to pay council tax, landlords would instead be required to pay a new “progressive property tax” in respect of their tenants and buy to let business, according to a synopsis of the plans published in Property Industry Eye on the 5th of June.

£83m – the cost of the Tenant Fee Ban?

We have previously discussed some of the likely impacts of the radical changes introduced by the Tenant Fees Act, which came into full force on the 1st of June and made it illegal for landlords or their agents to charge tenants fees for any but a very few services. The Act applies to tenancies in England, but similar legislation is being implemented in Wales (and already exists in Scotland).

Where various fees previously charged to tenants in some cases amounted to as much as £800 per tenancy, the total cost to landlords in lost revenue is likely to top £83 million, said Money Week on the 3rd of June.