Welcome to the Friday Newsround where this week we cover right to rent and green issues.
Right to Rent Update
Landlords and agents will be pleased to learn that the temporary rules put in place during the pandemic will now continue until 5 April 1922.
Under the new rules, landlords are not obliged to see original documents but can do checks over video calls. Applicants are currently able to submit scanned documents, rather than originals, to show they have a right to rent or right to work.
There are also now new rules for checking the immigration status of tenants who are EU nationals.
A statement from the Home Office said:
The end date for the temporary adjusted checks has now been deferred to 5 April 2022 (inclusive). We have made the decision to defer the date following the positive feedback we received about the ability to conduct checks remotely.
We initiated a review of the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital right to work checks in the future. The intention is to introduce a new digital solution to include many who are unable to use the Home Office online checking service, including UK and Irish citizens. This will enable checks to continue to be conducted remotely but with enhanced security.
Deferring the end date of the adjusted checks to 5 April 2022 ensures the Right to Work Scheme continues to operate in a manner which supports employers, whilst we look to implement a long-term, post-pandemic solution.
Concerns about mandatory energy efficiency improvements
The nations leaky and energy inefficient homes are a big problem for us to overcome to comply with our climate change obligations and landlords will be a big part of this.
The government wants all properties for new lets to have a rating of C by 2025 and for existing properties by 2028. However new research has shown that this is going to be problematic.
The problem is not just financing (although this is a big problem too). For example
- There are limits on what is possible for some properties
- There may be problems accessing the properties to do works with tenants in situ
- The works will cause a lot of disruption
- There may be a limited payback on any investment, and
- Limited benefit to the tenants (which may make them reluctant to grant access and put up with the disruption)
- It may be hard to find suitable tradespeople
- Landlords lack of knowledge over what is required, and
- The general hassle factor
So far as expense is concerned, some landlords estimate that undertaking the works will use up all their profit for the year – clearly a major problem for landlords who need income from their properties for their living expenses, such as many pensioners.
There is also a lack of knowledge over what is required. This is not helped by the fact that EPC Certificate current recommendations are currently out of sync as they tend to recommend installing gas appliances – which are due to be phased out under the climate change measures!
Doing any building work at the moment is difficult anyway as there is a general shortage of tradespersons and materials, due largely to a combination of Brexit and Covid.
The final issue is that at the moment taxes favour fossil fuel solutions – something which needs to be sorted urgently.
Hopefully, the government will get its house in order before COP 26 or it will look rather stupid.
NRLA warns about Council failure to tackle rogue landlords
The NRLA has issued a statement saying that unless more is done to ensure that Councils enforce the regulation we already have, any new measures for example in the proposed Renters Reform Bill will probably fail.
They point out that
- Only 43 landlords are currently listed on the database of rogue landlords in England, despite Ministers’ previous suggestion that up to 10,500 rogue landlords may be operating in the PRS
- The number of statutory provisions applying to England has risen by 40 per cent over the last decade to 168 pieces of legislation. Meaning that it is local authorities’ inability to enforce existing legislation, as opposed to a lack of powers, which is the key problem in this area.
- Figures released by Unchecked UK suggest that between 2009 and 2019 the amount spent on Local Authority Environmental Health Officers in England and Wales fell by around a third.
The NRLA point out that many landlords struggle to cope with the increasing legislation, particularly where multiple pieces of legislation overlap. Most tenants struggle to identify exactly what their rights are without specialist help. It’s all too confusing.
So the solutions should include:
- Proper funding and training for Local Authority staff to enable them to carry out their functions properly, and
- A simplification of the law (ideally via the Renters Reform Bill) which will help landlords and tenants know where they stand.
I suspect neither is likely.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:
We need to address the chronic failure to take action against rogue and criminal landlords. It puts tenants at risk and undermines the reputation of the overwhelming majority of landlords who play by the rules. As Ministers develop their plans for the sector, they need to be clear whether any of what they propose will be properly enforced.
More broadly, it is vital that the forthcoming White Paper strikes a fair balance between the needs of both tenants and landlords. It is in that spirit that we continue to work with the Government and others to develop workable policies that protect tenants from bad landlords whilst ensuring good landlords have the confidence to provide the homes to rent the country desperately needs.
Newsround will be back next week.