Time for another Friday Newsround looking at the news.
The Green Homes Grant
This is the grant which allows applicants to claim up to £5,000 (£10,000 for low-income homeowners) towards the cost of two energy-improving works and which is now open for applications.
If you are considering applying for a grant for your property you can do this here.
However, there are some concerns about the scheme.
- the grant is not available for properties with an efficiency rating of under E so is not available for those properties which need it most.
- Research has shown that there are more than 823,000 homes currently with an F or a G rating across England whereas the government’s scheme at most can only help around 600,000 homes – so many substandard properties will remain
- Councils have admitted that it is hard for them to police the energy efficiency ratings, plus landlords can only be made liable for up to £3,500 costs and there are many exemptions
- The timeline is too short – it is understood that first vouchers aren’t due to be issued until mid-November – as the scheme is due to close at the end of March next year, this doesn’t leave enough time for all 600,000 homes to be upgraded
- There are also concerns that there may not be enough installers to do the work
If the government is to meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2050 it is going to have to do better than this. Bearing in mind that home energy use accounts for some 15% of UK carbon emissions.
New money laundering guidance for estate and letting agents
Property purchase is one of the top ways that criminals launder money and so it is important that estate and letting agents are aware of their obligations and carry out all the proper checks.
However, spot and random checks by HMRC frequently uncover agents failing to comply with money laundering regulations. Which is bad news for those agents who will normally have to pay heavy fines.
To help with this, the Government have now published new guidance here. If you are a letting or estate agent – make sure you read this and ensure that you and all your staff are aware of your obligations and have proper training.
Airbnb landlords and their tax
If you are an Airbnb landlord – are your tax affairs in order? Airbnb has agreed to share its data with the Government for the past two tax years – which may mean that HMRC will be coming after you.
There is, of course, a tax allowance of £7,500 under the ‘rent a room scheme’ but note that this only applies to your main home. So cannot be claimed if you are renting out a second or third home.
Alexander Kossoff, a partner at Grunberg & Co accountancy practice has said
Airbnb’s decision to share income data with HMRC could lead to a rise of investigations against hosts if the tax authority feels that tax is outstanding. Hosts and landlords should, therefore, consider making a disclosure and payment to HMRC for any outstanding tax that is due.
If you have already submitted a tax return for 2018/19 you should be able to amend it before January 31 next year. So have a word with your accountants.
Tenants needing rehousing
Landlords have been complaining for years that Councils refuse to rehouse tenants in priority need until they are actually evicted by bailiffs, which forces landlords to take them through the courts, usually resulting in large financial losses to those landlords.
Plus there is the unnecessary stress to both parties of having to go through a court process, which also places an extra burden on the courts in dealing with these unnecessary cases. A substantial proportion of court eviction claims are solely due to Councils’ refusal to rehouse until the bailiffs are at the door.
However, it seems that in a new case the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has declared that a council should not have waited until the eviction date to rehouse a mother but should have rehoused her when she first informed it that she was being made homeless.
So if you are a landlord or a tenant in this position you can tell Councils that they are breaking the law and refer them to the “Investigation into a complaint against London Borough of Haringey (reference number: 19 014 008)” where it was judged that the Council must rehouse immediately.
However, the problem is that Councils don’t have sufficient properties available to house all those who need rehousing. A legal case is not going to change that.
Will pet discrimination be outlawed?
Landlords will be worried to learn that a new bill aimed at banishing the no-pet clause for rented homes has had its first reading in the Commons with cross-party support.
The Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill, is a private members bill brought by Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell:
For most people, being separated from their dog is no different from being separated from their brother or sister.
Sadly, pet owners who move into rented accommodation face the reality that their family could be torn apart, because most landlords in Britain have unnecessary bans or restrictions on pet ownership.
However, to be able to take advantage of the new law (if it is passed) pet owners will have to pass a test of responsible ownership. This means they’ll have to get a certificate from a vet before moving in, confirming that they have a healthy, well-behaved animal and are considered to be a responsible owner.
For dogs, a checklist would include being vaccinated and microchipped and being responsive to basic training commands.
Apparently, similar laws exist in France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland which have all outlawed blanket restrictions on pets in rented accommodation.
The bill is backed by 11 other cross-party MPs including Andrea Leadsom and Tim Farron, and gets its second reading on 29th January.
- Student Landlords should consider Covid break clauses
- Rental market reveals UK divide between affluent and deprived areas
- Latest selective licensing plan is ‘contrary to government’s own guidance’ say landlords
- Winter fund of £12m for rough sleepers in England ‘not enough’, say charities
- How much more does Airbnb earn landlords than traditional lets?
Newsround will be back next week.