According to the Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA), there was uncertainty for landlords in the wake of Friday’s referendum results, as many laws currently governing the private rental sector would have to change. Now that the Brexit vote has taken place, with the UK choosing to leave the EU, this post considers some of the main legislative changes that could be made in the near future.
The PRS has boomed in recent years, as high prices, stringent lending rules and a shortage of stock in prime markets like London has left many would-be buyers unable to own property. Figures show that 22 per cent of British households rent privately, an increase of 9 per cent over 30 years, and there has been plenty of legislation introduced to govern this growing sector in that time. However, following the Brexit vote, there will certainly be a number of amendments that need to be made – so what changes could landlords expect?
Right to Rent Act, replacement legislation, EPCs and more
Primarily, there will be a need to draft new legislation that will replace that which is currently in place and enforced by the EU.
Some areas that may see key changes include The Deregulation Act, policy that came into effect in March of 2015. There are guidelines set out in this act that govern such things as tenancy deposits, eviction of assured shorthold tenants (Section 21 notices), and Energy Performance Certificates. The latter could be especially affected, as it is currently a requirement to have an EPC when buying or selling a property. This could potentially be scrapped without EU rule, which would not only eliminate the associated cost when buying or selling a rental property, but would also negate the need for landlords to provide EPCs to tenants before they enter the property. This is currently the requirement, and failing to provide this documentation sees landlords incur a fine of £200 per dwelling. There is already a petition being circulated demanding that EPCs be scrapped in order to alleviate the extra bureaucracy and expense they currently bring to landlords.
Of course, as immigration took a front seat during the election, the legislation surrounding the Right to Rent Act could also possibly face reform. Private landlords are currently legally obligated to check the status of their prospective tenants to ensure they are in the UK legally, by means of checking a passport, visa, or birth certificate. Since its introduction in February, this piece of legislation has proved highly controversial, especially given that failing to conduct a check or letting out a property to an individual here illegally brings with it a fine of up to £3,000. Now that the British government is set to have greater control over immigration and border control practices, there could well be changes to this legislation as well.
As an inevitable period of uncertainty begins, the private rental sector will have to wait and see what this time of change will bring. With regards to EPCs and the Right to Rent act however, it is all but certain that this legislation will be amended if not repealed altogether.
About the author
Matt Eastham is a director of Easthams & Co; a leading, Lancashire based letting agent and corporate relocation company. Easthams & Co is a family business, which has been operating and specialising in residential lettings since 1984.