Weekly landlord news digest: Issue 20

A new week means new breaking news for landlords! It is important to keep up to date with industry changes to ensure that you remain compliant and fulfil your obligations as a landlord. With the industry moving so quickly you can’t afford to miss the news that matters! With this in mind, Hamilton Fraser’s weekly news digest brings the latest landlord news straight to you.

In this week’s edition, we explore the Tenant Fees Act 2019 that comes into force on 1 June, how law changes in Scotland have had unforeseen consequences, and the rise in property values. We also take a look at how the eviction of a ‘nightmare tenant’ in Hull led to a celebratory street party and how, despite the number of private rented homes dropping, the number of properties available to rent has actually increased.

 

Tenant fee ban lifts off for landlords and agents

The tenant fee ban comes into force from 1 June, meaning that landlords and agents must ensure they are compliant with the new rules if they want to avoid a £5,000 fine.

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 applies to assured shorthold tenancies (AST), student accommodation tenancies and licences to occupy housing in the private rented sector in England.

For detailed guidance, the Ministry of Housing has published a handbook for landlords and letting agents online in order to help clarify information surrounding the Act, including ‘permitted’ and ‘prohibited’ fees. The guide also explains the caps on how much tenants should pay for deposits.

Charging a tenant a fee that is banned under the new law could mean a fine of up to £5,000 per fee and so it is important to ensure that you comply with this legislation from the outset.

Read the full government guidance.

 

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Law changes in Scotland have unforeseen consequences, says property expert

Landlords and letting agents in England should be ready for some unforeseen consequences of the tenant fee ban, says a property expert in Scotland.

Scotland has had a tenant fee ban and other laws in place to safeguard tenant rights since December 2017.

The law allows landlords and agents to take refundable holding deposits while checks are made before a tenant moves in. During this time, properties are taken off the market. But some tenants are placing deposits on several homes while they make their choice.

The government guidance (on page 36) for tenants in England, however, is that if they choose to put down more than one holding deposit and subsequently withdraw from an agreement, they will not be entitled to have their holding deposit refunded and could be liable for other contractual remedies.

It therefore remains to be seen whether such unforeseen consequences will occur in England once the dust settles on the tenant fee ban.

“I don’t believe that tenants are deliberately taking an interest in multiple properties for any reason other than they are looking at a specific area, see a further property, and keep their interest in the original property live until they have secured a better place, the result, however, is that many properties are being taken off the market for a few weeks, then bounced back on once the holding deposit is withdrawn. Obviously, this causes more work but of greater concern is that it loses income on the property.”

David Alexander, joint managing director of property manager Apropos

“Tenant from Hell” eviction leads to street party in Hull

Neighbours in Bransholme, Hull, relieved at the eviction of a nightmare tenant have thrown a street party to celebrate ‘getting their street back’.

The tenant, it was claimed, had caused £25,000 worth of damage to the rented house including smashed windows, holes in the wall and mounds of rubbish both inside the property and in the garden.  The landlord fought for months to secure the eviction through the High Court after the tenant also caused significant distress to neighbours with her behaviour.

After a prolonged battle by the landlord to regain his property, fully supported by neighbours, the community came together to fund a barbecue and games once the eviction had been completed.

A neighbour told Hull News: “It has been absolutely great. It’s lovely – we can sleep on a night and it’s just great. Everyone is so relieved and it means the kids can play out in the street with no backlash off her.” Read more about the “tenant from hell” here.