Apart from the passing of the 1988 & 2004 Housing Acts by Parliament I have never experienced such a collection of changes to renting a flat all in one go. The following Legislation has just become effective (April 2012).
- Tenancy Deposit Protection information must now be provided within 30 days or you may be fined and invalidate your right to evict a Tenant by issuing a S21 notice.
- An EPC must be commissioned before a property can be marketed and the EPC must actually be issued within 7 days of marketing.
- In 2018, rental properties with the two lowest EPC scores are due to be banned from the market, meaning that landlords must have improved them by then.
- DHSS allowances for Housing Benefit (LHA) change dramatically.
- The age limit of the Single Room Rate (SRR) rose from 25 to 35 years old. Anyone under 35 yrs will only get Bedsit LHA
- The five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate has gone so that the maximum level is for a four bedroom flat.
- Local Housing Allowance rates are reduced so that about 3 in 10 properties for rent in the area should be affordable to people on Housing Benefit, rather than every 5 in 10 properties as before.
- Local Housing Allowance weekly rates in any area cannot exceed:
- £250 for a one bedroom property
- £290 for a two bedroom property
- £340 for a three bedroom property
- £400 for a four bedroom property
- Local Housing Allowance (Housing Benefits) will be set in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) instead of the Retail Prices Index (RPI)
- Small-shared houses or flats occupied by between 3 and 6 unrelated individuals who share basic amenities were reclassified under planning laws from “C3 Dwelling Houses” to “C4 Houses in Multiple Occupation“. Depending in which part of the country you are you may need Planning Permission to rent these.
So from today the tenancy agreements that you use should be different to the ones that you used to use. The way that I keep up to date with legislation is through my membership of the Guild of Landlords which costs me £80 p.a. and provides me with current documents and a legal advice line to advise me on their use. I chose the Guild because it was strongly recommended to me, and I appreciate the personal nature of the organisation. However the other landlord organisations have their own supporters, and I don’t think that it is important which one you join, just that you do join one of them.