It’s actually been quite a year for legislation – new bits being introduced, then changed… then kicked into the long grass. It has been fun just keeping you updated! There have been a load of headline-grabbing notices for lettings which have come to nothing. So let’s have a look at what stuck and what was lost in 2023.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
These came into force on 23rd January and introduced new obligations for mainly HMO landlords. The regulations laid out fire safety instructions to the occupants which needed to include:
- The evacuation strategy for the building (e.g. stay put or simultaneous evacuation)
- Instructions on how to report a fire (e.g. use of 999 or 112, correct address to give to the fire and rescue service, etc.)
- Any other instructions that tell residents what they must do if there is a fire.
Also, it laid out the information regarding the fire doors in the property. These should include:
- Fire doors should be shut when not in use.
- Residents or their guests should not tamper with self-closing devices on fire doors.
- Residents should report any fault with, or damage to, fire doors immediately to the responsible person – in this case the owner.
We received figures showing that the PRS had grown by 2.4% since 2019 and now covered 4.876m properties. The Southeast had grown by 9.1% but East of England was down 0.4%
Saw tax laws change for landlords
- Corporation Tax rose for companies with profits above £50,000 from 19% to 25%. This only affected landlords who let out properties via a limited company and have annual profits of more than £50,000,
- Dividend Allowance was reduced from £2,000 to £1,000 for the 2023/24 tax year and then to £500 for the 2024/25 tax year.
- There was no change to Personal Allowance which remained at £12,570.
The first reading of the Renters Reform Bill took place and contained plans to:
- Abolish Section 21 and move to a tenancy structure in which all tenancies are periodic.
- Abolish the assured shorthand tenancy
- Reform possession grounds, including mandatory grounds for possession where a landlord intends to sell or in cases of repeated rent arrears.
- Create a new property Ombudsman to settle disputes and relieve pressure on the courts, which private landlords must join.
- Implement a digital Property Portal to better inform tenants and landlords of their rights and obligations and assist local councils in carrying out their enforcement duties.
- Establish a statutory right for tenants to request a pet.
Confused by the above/ Don’t worry – we wrote lots about it!
- Renters Reform Bill: How will it affect you?
- Renters Reform Bill;”What we know so far
- Renters Reform Bill: DSS and families
- Pets and the Renters Reform bill
The Cambridge Connect plan was announced
The population of Greater Cambridge is expected to grow by 120,000 by 2031. The plan laid out how we were going to get more housing and effective transport links.
The plan includes two light rail lines (the Isaac Newton Line and Darwin Line) serving Cambridge and the surrounding region, extending 40 km in length, including a short tunnel in the city core. The 2018 plan for more guided buses was kicked into the long grass.
In May we also started to see inflation fall but the predicted mortgage rate reduction did not happen
The East West Railway (Oxford to Cambridge)
This went one step nearer getting built, but still has to go through a public consultation in 2024 and relies on money from government.
The Right to Rent fine increased to £20,000 which meant that if a landlord does not ensure that residents and lodgers have the right to rent in the UK you could be in for a heavy fine!
Right to Rent checks require landlords and agents to check the immigration status of all prospective adult occupiers at the outset of the tenancy to ensure they have the right to live in the UK.
For owners who take on illegal immigrants, the fines will increase from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier for a first breach to up to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier. Repeat breaches will be up to £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier, up from £500 and £3,000 respectively.
We received an updated guidance for owners and residents
This went through the possession action process and how better to understand how it could affect you .
Southwest travel hub – was given all clear
It will be situated off Junction 11 of the M11 and plans to give people the option to park at the travel hub and make the remainder of their journey on foot, by bike or by public transport. It plans to deal with the expected additional jobs 30,000 at the bio campus by 2031 and the additional 33,500 new homes in greater Cambridge.
It was announced that The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is being reviewed
Main change is to the requirement to deal with damp. You can find out more here.
Boilers given a reprieve
We had been hearing for a number of years that gas boilers would be phased out in 2026. In September this again was kicked down the road until 2035!
MEES was kicked into the long grass
The Government had previously announced plans to increase Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in the private rented sector. This meant we were expecting the minimum rating for a home in the PRS to be raised from E to C by 2025. The PM announced this was not going to happen.
Section 21 abolition put on hold
This is until the courts can deal with expected increased claims via Section 8. Read more here.
Cambridge 2040 announced
After a meeting with his team, Mr Gove announced that Cambridge was to become science central but forgot to tell the people who would make it happen.
How to Rent Guide
Was updated (again). If this is news to you and you have moved tenants in since November, be aware you will find issuing a section 21 a tad difficult.
The King’s Speech
This confirmed the Government’s intention to push on with the Renters (Reform) Act and banning the sale of leasehold houses – but not apartments.
New material guidance given
Which will mean a whole lot more information will be needed at the point of advertising a property.
Now you can understand what we have been involved with over the last 12 months! As ever you can rely on us to keep you up to date with any legislation that may have an affect on your portfolio.
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