If you are the landlord, it pays to keep abreast of anything that is likely to affect your buy to let business. Overlooking any new laws or regulations or simply being unprepared for those changes could cost you dearly.
So, let’s look at the six forthcoming and most likely developments in the year ahead. *
1. Carbon monoxide laws
Ministers have already decided on the introduction this year of significant changes to carbon monoxide laws – principally to extend further protection to those in social housing but with across the board changes that will also typically affect the whole private rented sector.
Under the new rules, every unit of social housing must be fitted with smoke alarms. Carbon monoxide detectors and alarms must also be fitted where such housing has a gas-fired boiler or open fire.
The regulations also extend to all property in the private rented sector. Currently, at least one smoke alarm is required on each floor of a let property and a carbon monoxide detector in any room in which an appliance or fire is capable of burning solid fuel.
2. Minimum six-month notice periods in Wales from Spring 2022
With effect from this Spring, landlords in Wales will have to give tenants at least six months’ notice of any notice to quit the let property, points out estate agents Hamilton Fraser.
The same legislation also prevents landlords from issuing such notices – with the exception of Section 8 notices – within the first six months of any tenancy. The combined effect of these changes, therefore, is to grant any tenant in Wales a minimum of 12 months’ occupancy.
3. Rental reform
2022 should also see some of the most significant changes for quite some time to the private rented sector as a whole.
Delayed from last year, said the National Residential Housing Association (NRLA), the proposed Renters Reform Bill is scheduled to address issues including:
- repeal of Section 21 of the Housing Act;
- reform of Section 8 (the so-called “no-fault” evictions);
- the possibility of a formal register of landlords;
- the introduction of lifetime deposits; and
- the improved enforcement of housing laws and regulations.
4. Energy efficiency rules
The year ahead is likely to see further steps along the path towards government plans for enhanced energy-efficiency in the private rented sector, suggested an article by Which? magazine on the 29th of December.
The precise steps remain to be seen but the government has already decided to delay until 2026 (instead of the original 2025) a deadline by which all private sector landlords must bring their let properties up to a minimum band C energy-efficiency rating.
It also remains to be seen whether there will be a price cap on the maximum amount landlords will be expected to pay to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties.
5. EV charging points requirement in new builds and refurbs
At the end of last year, the Prime Minister set the ball rolling by announcing that all new buildings and those in the process of major renovation will be required to install charging points for electric vehicles (EVs).
That, in turn, will require major infrastructure developments including:
- real-time monitoring of charge consumed and the setting of charging schedules to take advantage of off-peak energy tariffs;
- establishing minimum technical standards (according to British Standards);
- cyber security arrangements that comply with European standards EN 303645; and
- rules for the inspection, testing, and removal of charging points to the required standards.
6. Making Tax Digital
Until now, you have been able to avoid signing up to the government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative if your buy to let business had an annual turnover of less than £85,000.
With effect from the start of the new tax year this April, whatever your business is earning, you will be required to submit your VAT tax returns in accordance with MTD requirements.
As in previous years, 2022 is likely to see a further raft of new laws and regulations that impact you as a landlord and your buy to let business.
Make sure to follow any changes that are put into effect – and, whenever possible, prepare for those changes well in advance.
*Please note, these proposed changes are based on our current understanding of the Law etc. Please note that this information is for guidance purposes only, as not all these changes may come into effect – and some may only come in to affect in certain areas of the UK. Please always seek professional advice if you are unsure as to your obligations as a landlord.