Friday again and time for another Newsround.
Government plans consultations on EPCs
The government has published an action plan to look at EPCs and correct issues relating to their reliability and redress if they are found to be incorrect.
For example, at the moment this is not something that tenants can claim redress for, only the people who commissioned the report.
The Ministry of Housing said:
Consumer trust needs to be addressed as low trust in EPCs could mean consumers are less likely to consult their EPC when making decisions and to act on recommendations. Better information on how EPCs are created and the limitations of EPCs could help to improve trust.
There are to be a series of consultations which has not pleased ARLA. Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager for ARLA Propertymark, said:
On the face of it, these proposals simply do not take into account the state of the UK’s housing stock. We all want to see more energy-efficient homes, but the new rules and requirements must be realistic and achievable.
Landlords and their letting agents are already taking the brunt of tax changes and many are providing support to tenants with Covid related arrears.
A simplified exemptions regime and additional financial support must be made available otherwise the measures in their current form, will not be achievable and that would mean further reductions in the supply of rented accommodation available.
In the meantime, the government have also published new online services regarding viewing and obtaining an EPC.
The first EPC consultation document
- raising the energy performance standard to Energy Performance Certificate energy efficiency rating Band C;
- achieving improvements for new tenancies from 2025 and all tenancies from 2028;
- increasing the maximum investment amount, resulting in an average per-property spend of £4,700 under a £10,000 cap;
- introducing what government calls a ‘fabric first’ approach to energy performance improvements (this is improving the performance of the materials that make up the building fabric itself, before considering the use of mechanical systems).
The deadline for responses is 30 December 2020.
Proceeds of Crime Act awards for planning breaches
I’m pleased to see that Waltham Forest BC are not letting landlords get away with breaching the planning legislation and are now prosecuting and applying for Proceeds of Crime awards.
As reported here they have brought two prosecutions.
The first case
This was brought against a Mr and Mrs Khilji who were successfully prosecuted after illegally converting a property into two self-contained flats and failing to comply with an enforcement notice requiring them to return the property to its original structure.
They were ordered to pay a total of £160,000 which included a fine of £1,000 for each defendant, costs of £18,000 and a Proceeds Of Crime Act award of £140,000.
The second case
This was brought against Mohammed Raja Iqbal, of Premier Home Investments Ltd, following his failure to comply with a planning enforcement notice after building without planning permission, a three-story extension to a property, and converting the upper floor to flats.
He was ordered to pay confiscation proceeds in the amount of £261,837.89 or face two years’ imprisonment in default of payment. Costs were awarded in the amount of £27,174 and a fine of £20,000 was handed down. The article also notes that his ability’ ‘to act as manager or licence holder in respect of any property licence will be reviewed.
The two cases together net an eye-watering £400,000 odd and go to show that Waltham Forest BC, at any rate, are serious about enforcing the planning regulations.
Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Environment, said:
People who flout planning rules for their own financial gain need to understand that we will take necessary enforcement action. We will consider action under the Proceeds of Crime Act whenever appropriate so that we take away the financial benefit of this criminal activity.
Right to Rent legislation
It had been hoped that government would abandon its controversial ‘right to rent’ checks which all landlords and agents are required to carry out, after the challenge brought in the Court.
However, it does not look as if this is going to happen any time soon as new legislation to expand the Right to Rent scheme to EU citizens has been laid before parliament.
The legislation, which has caused controversy since details were revealed earlier this year, enables both non-EU and EU citizens granted status to live and work in the UK to go online and view their Home Office profile.
They can then share this with a landlord if they wish by providing them with a ‘share code’ which can be used to access the prospective tenant’s record.
- The Grenfell legacy – Government must give clarity or tens of thousands of flat owners will be frozen out of the housing market
- Housing charity opens UK’s first high street lettings agency for homeless
- COVID checker launched for lettings agents managing student accommodation
- Green Homes Grant opens for applications from landlords
- Landlords still waiting for courts to tackle new or restarted possession hearings
Newsround will be back next week.