Weekly landlord news digest: 1/2/19

There’s never a shortage of news in the buy-to-let sector, and one of the biggest challenges for landlords is how to stay on top of it. With the demands of property maintenance, tenants and finances, you’d be forgiven for not catching all the crucial weekly developments.

We can help. Every week, we hunt down the biggest stories and present them to you in one place – our news digest. Never miss a story again. This week’s news features cover tax breaks for energy efficient landlords, slumping rental yields and fresh demands for rental controls in the capital.

 

Coming soon: New electrical safety laws for landlords

Tough new electrical safety laws are on the way for landlords, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler has announced.

Landlords must ensure qualified inspectors check electrical installations for safety in rented homes at least every five years.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure in their own home. While measures are already in place to crack down on the small minority of landlords who rent out unsafe properties, we need to do more to protect tenants,” said Wheeler.

“These new measures will reduce the risk of faulty electrical equipment, giving people peace of mind and helping to keep them safe in their homes. It will also provide clear guidance to landlords on who they should be hiring to carry out these important electrical safety checks.”

No start date for the new safety measure was given.

 

Give energy efficient landlords a tax boost

The government should offer landlords a tax incentive to make private rented homes energy efficient, urge property professionals.

The plan is for all rental homes to have an Energy Performance Certificate rating of at least ‘C’ by 2030, but the target will be missed if landlords are not offered more financial support to upgrade their properties, says the Association of Rental Letting Agents (ARLA).

The trade body claims landlords cannot afford the investment needed to make their homes energy efficient without help from the government.

 

Buy-to-let yields slump to three-year low

Landlords have seen yields from buy-to-let homes slide to their lowest for three years, according to a leading lender.

Yields plunged to 5.6% down year-on-year during the last three months of 2018, says data from mortgage provider BM Solutions. But despite the diminishing returns on investment, 88% of landlords confirmed their property businesses still show a profit.

Phil Rickards, head of BM Solutions, said: “The buy-to-let industry has been through many regulatory changes over the past few years, and the effects of this are clearly being felt.

 

And the best place to live in the UK is…

Spectacular landscapes, low crime and good schools make Orkney the best place to live in the country, according to those who live there.

The remote islands nestling 10 miles from John O’Groats off the northern tip of Scotland have finally taken the top spot in the annual Halifax Quality of Life Survey after coming runners up for the past two years.

Russell Galley, managing director of the Halifax, said: “Orkney has consistently been considered one of the best places to live in the UK. Its remote location may not be for everyone, but this comes with the benefit of having high employment, low crime rates, smaller class sizes and more affordable housing.”

 

Call for rent controls in London

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants the government to give him powers to control private rent in the capital.

As mayor, Khan has no power to stop landlords setting rents how they wish, but he is lobbying for ministers to allow the assembly to step in to regulate housing costs as part of his ‘ongoing work’ to help the city’s 2.4 million private tenants.

To support his campaign, the mayor published results of a survey that shows 68% of Londoners favour the government capping buy-to-let rents.

“London is in the middle of a desperate housing crisis that has been generations in the making. At City Hall we are doing everything in our power to tackle it. I have long been frustrated by my lack of powers to help private renters. Laws for private renters are simply not fit for purpose,” said Khan.

 

What to do if you’ve missed the self-assessment deadline

HM Revenue & Customs says around 750,000 people a year fail to lodge their self-assessment returns before the midnight on 31st January cut-off each year out of the 11.5 million who should file the paperwork.

Sadly, if you are one of them, you will likely have to pay at least £150 in fines, but at least paying these penalties buys you some time to sort your tax affairs out.

Our in-depth article explains what to do next.

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