News & Events

Letting Agents, changes are coming….

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

From 1 April 2018 the criteria for letting properties is going to change.  Are your Estate Agents and Letting Agents aware how important this will be when renewing and/or extending tenancies or granting new lets when the new regulations come into force?  Breaches of the regulations will result in penalties of up to £5,000 on residential properties and much higher for commercial properties.  With thousands of properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G being let in England and Wales, landlords need to get their properties to a better EPC rating by making the necessary energy performance improvements before it is too late.

Why? The Energy Act 2011 included changes to the law regarding the rental of either residential or commercial premises to reach a minimum energy standard as of 1 April 2018. Low income and vulnerable tenants will soon experience warmer homes that cost less to heat. The Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) are part of the UK’s commitment to meet its carbon reduction targets.

When?  From 1 April 2018 it will be unlawful to grant a new lease, extend or renew a lease on a property with an EPC rating lower than ‘E’ (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard, MEES) for both residential and commercial properties. As of 1 April 2020 the regulations will apply to current, ongoing tenancies and also to any new tenancies granted from this date.

How?  Landlords will need to make improvements to the energy performance of their properties to ensure they do not fall foul of the regulations.  The following are an example of the improvements that can be made to increase the EPC rating:

  • Changing an old boiler to a more efficient one such as a condensing boiler;
  • Replacing existing halogen lights with low energy lighting such as: compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs);
  • Renewable energy such as installing solar panels, bio-mas boilers or ground source heat pumps;
  • Double glazing;
  • Roof insulation;
  • Cavity wall insulation

What?  With properties being classified as sub-standard with an EPC rating of F or G, what is next for Agents and Landlords?  It is simple: they must not grant a new lease, extend, or renew a lease on sub-standard properties (EPC rating of F or G) after 1 April 2018 otherwise the landlords will face financial penalties.  Your Estate Agents and Letting Agents must make property owners aware of any properties that are sub-standard as soon as possible as it will become impossible to market properties unless they are upgraded.

The Government is tightening its grip to raise standards with the possibility of banning letting agent fees on tenants for their services in England in 2018 by introducing The Tenants Fee Bill; that will help millions of tenants who will no longer be hit with unforeseen fees and making the private rental market more affordable..

With the government proposing to cap tenancy deposits at 6 weeks rent this will bring greater control and regulation giving tenants better clarity and peace of mind.  Capping of tenants deposits may not come into force until 2019 but it shows the determination of the Government to tighten the rules and regulations to bring any rogue landlords and letting agents in line.          

Client Money Protection (CMP) has also had much press over the past year.  A Government consultation on compulsory CMP cover in England and Wales is being carried out (already mandatory requirement in Scotland) to recompense tenants and landlords of rent and deposits where monies have been fraudulently used or misappropriated.  Client Money Protection cover is generally available to letting agents who are members of estate & letting agent trade bodies.

It seems like no stone will be left unturned until the system is deemed fair and reasonable by the Government.  It could prove a tough year for the industry with the changes and we will see what effect this will have on tenants, landlords and letting agents in the years to come.

Competitive Professional Indemnity insurance package policies are available for your Estate Agents, Letting Agents and Property Managers needs.  Contact our specialist underwriter, Marc Brewer for more information today:

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+44 (0)20 7680 2909