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The Chancellor announced on Wednesday the 8th July, as part of additional economic measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, that the UK Government will introduce a new £2 billion Green Homes Grant for landlords and homeowners to help make their properties more energy-efficient.
Under the scheme landlords and homeowners in England can apply for a voucher to fund at least two-thirds of the cost of hiring tradespeople to upgrade the energy performance of their homes, up to a maximum contribution of £5,000.
Andrew Luxton, Partner Stags Residential Lettings explains "the scheme is open to anyone who would benefit from eligible energy efficiency measures. Homeowners will be able to apply for a Green Homes Grant through the Simple Energy Advice website. After answering some basic questions about their home, applicants will be recommended eligible energy efficiency measures, along with local accredited suppliers. Once an application has been approved vouchers will be issued and final payment made on completion of work by an accredited supplier.
For further information on any aspect of letting or managing your let property please get in touch.
Gas Safety Checks & Property Maintenance
Landlords must make sure that their rented property is ’fit for human habitation’, ensuring that it is safe, healthy and free from things that could cause you or anyone else in your household serious harm. If possible, necessary repairs, gas and electrical safety checks should be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in. If this is not possible and visits are needed to an occupied property, this should be done by appointment with measures put in place to ensure physical contact is minimised, for example with residents staying in another room during the visit. If due to a tenant being unwell or self-isolating the works are unable to be carried out this should be full documented and recorded by the landlord with the works arranged as soon as safe to do so.
Useful website (Gas Safe)
Electrical Safety Checks
From 1st June 2020, private landlords will be required to have the electrical installation in their rental properties checked by a qualified electrician to ensure that they are safe. This means that electrical installations must be inspected prior to the start of a new tenancy from the 1st July 2020 and any existing tenancy by 1st April 2021. These checks must then be carried out in future on a five yearly basis.
Without exception we are all experiencing unprecedented times as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic which is affecting all of our daily lives. However, despite this, landlords should not forget about their responsibilities including the remaining provision of the minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) which come into force on 1st April 2020.
The MEES legislation forms just one element of a Landlords responsibility when letting a property, none of which can be ignored. Despite the Coronavirus outbreak landlords are still expected to try and gain access to the property to enable an assessor to complete the report, and where this is not possible due to a tenant self-isolating, then their efforts should be fully documented.
Read our recent article for additional information - Changes to MEES regulations for landlords
Useful website (ARLA)
The guidance advises all routine property inspections and visits should be postponed until such time as the restrictions allow. In the interim, Landlords may wish to consider a verbal inspection, telephoning tenants to discuss their tenancy or alternatively using arranging a video call to enable the tenant to provide a virtual inspection.
The current crisis is no doubt going to effect some tenants ability to fulfil the obligations of their tenancy to pay the rent. In some cases a landlord may be able to assist in deferring or reducing rental payments on a temporary basis however, this is not to be confused with a rent free period and it should be explained to a tenant in these cases that the full amount will need to be paid at a later date.
Landlord: “I am reducing my tenant’s rent – can I claim this from the deposit when the tenancy ends?”
Communication and clarity is key. Landlords should ensure that when offering reductions in rent it is clear that the rent still falls due in the period, but that the landlord has agreed to defer part of the payment to a defined time in the future.
It is important that the tenant fully understands that the deferring the rent means that it is still due and it is not being cancelled or that the tenant does not ever need to pay it.
Tenant: “Can I use my deposit to pay the rent?”
Read our recent article - Can I use my deposit...
Useful link - TDS
On Friday 5th June the Government announced an extension to the ban on evictions by another 2 months. This means that eviction hearings will not be heard in court until the end of August. The government stated that as a result no one will be evicted from their homes this summer due to Coronavirus.
Andrew Luxton MRICS FARLA, Partner Stags Residential Lettings, is concerned that whilst everyone has sympathy with tenants who face genuine difficulties due to a loss of income as a result of the Coronavirus crisis, this will have a significant impact on landlords who, for genuine reasons, require their property back .
Throughout this crisis Stags, with their landlords, have worked with tenants to agree rent payment reductions or holidays when required to avoid tenants getting into significant rental debt, and to ease the immediate impact of the crisis. Landlords are also being significantly impacted by the crisis, whom for many, often in retirement, rent is an important part of their income.
Stags are concerned that where a landlord genuinely requires their property back, either at the end of a fixed term tenancy or because they require the property for the own use, or possibly having to sell, this further delay will impact their ability to get vacant possession anytime soon. In addition, it is likely their will be a significant back log of cases to be heard by the end of August causing further delay. The normal notice period is 2 months.
It is vital the Government sets out it's plans for the residential lettings market and it is hoped it starts to value the important and vital part the Private Residential Sector plays in providing much needed accommodation that the public sector cannot, and will not, ever fulfil.
For advice and guidance call your local Stags lettings office.
Landlords with empty properties are no doubt keen to have their property occupied and an income coming in as soon as possible. Although no new moves can take place while current Government restrictions are in place a property can be marketed, advertised and a let agreed for a future move once, the restrictions allow. Through virtual tours and video calls landlords and tenants can have the opportunity to ‘see’ the property and ‘meet’ allowing an opportunity to pose those all important questions.