Here is this week’s newsround, which focuses on holiday letting tax and the new Fire Safety Act.
New Figures illustrate problems adapting houses for disabled or old tenants
New Government figures released have illustrated the lack of government support given to landlords when adapting their properties for tenants who are disabled and old.
A quarter of all private rented properties (which equates to around a million homes) has someone living in them who has a long term illness or a disability. In addition, data shows that 25% of people who live in properties that need adaption say that their property is not suitable to meet their needs.
The figures seem to illustrate a lack of funds and a lack of knowledge by both landlords and tenants that there is some (if limited) government funding and grants available for making adaptions to properties to enable disabled people to live within the property.
Most local authorities on their websites have links to a ‘Disabled Facilities Grant’ which is a scheme to help financially support landlords with adaptions to their homes (here is Hyndburn council’s page as an example).
Tenants needing adaptions to their properties is a rapidly growing sector within the PRS. Government data shows that between 2009/10 and 2019/20 the number of properties with residents aged 65 and over grew by 44%.
Landlords cannot by law discriminate against disabled tenants and it is important for landlords to be aware of the various grants and funds that are available to supplement the cost of these adaptions.
Get to grips with the new Fire Safety Act 2021
Landlords and letting agents are advised to prepare for the Fire Safety Act which is set to come into force either late 2021 or early 2022. The act aims to replace the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and hopes to better explain the responsibilities of each party in regards to fire safety.
The Fire Safety Act provides that the duty holder (which in properties will likely be a managing agent or landlord) must ‘manage and reduce the risk of fire’ posed by the structure of the property. Which includes the external walls, balconies, windows and entrance doors.
Under the new act, fire and rescue services will be authorised to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they are not compliant.
This Act will be coupled with the Building Safety Bill, which is expected to be passed in 2022 to create a whole new regulatory system for safety conditions in residential properties.
Former Council Homes used as holiday lets in Cornwall?
Protestors in Cornwall will be conducting a demonstration (21 August in Truro) demanding:
No more second homes. No more exorbitant rents. No more holiday lets over council homes. Enough is enough
Protestors say many rental properties have been changed to shorter lets, especially in popular holiday destinations such as Truro and Newquay.
It is also claimed that many former council houses within the county, which were brought under the right to buy legislation are now being advertised on short let platform – in contravention of covenants imposed at the time of their sale. Which provided that they were not to be used for any purpose other than as a private dwelling house.
Why is nothing being done about this? Can these covenants not be enforced by the Council?
Petition to increase lettings tax nears 45,000-signature
Following on from the last post regarding the holiday lets, a petition to increase lettings tax on holiday rents is nearing 45,000 signatures.
Long term tenant Alex Mcintyre, who was evicted from his flat so his landlord could repurpose it as a holiday home. His petition, which is on behalf of Generation Rent, says
Plymouth has become a city of holiday lets. Cornwall has 62 homes to rent on Rightmove but 10,290 AirBnB listings. In one village in Wales, three quarters of the houses are holiday homes.
Fewer homes available for residents mean higher rents, and people being priced out of their local areas in search of a home. That erodes local communities and starves local businesses of workers. The only people who benefit are the landlords.
One cause of this is mortgage tax relief, which holiday-let landlords are entitled to but private rental landlords are not. It is saving holiday-let landlords potentially thousands of pounds every year, and actively dissuading them from renting their houses out to locals. After all, why rent to actual residents when the government has made it cheaper to let out holiday accommodation?
We need a level playing field so that the local areas enjoy the right balance between holiday lets and homes people want to live in. By removing mortgage interest relief from holiday lets, more property owners will make their homes available to people who need somewhere to live. This will reduce rents, stop people being priced out, and make sure communities in tourist hotspots benefit.
Renting from your bank?
Maybe tenants would be better off renting properties from their bank? We have reported previously on Lloyds Bank, now it seems that Gatehouse Bank is also investing in the sector.
The banks will be focusing on providing family homes and presumably, will not be evicting their tenants so they can turn the properties into Airbnb lets.
However is this the start of the end of the PRS as we know it? Interesting comments in the article here.
- Landlords Urged to Report Suspicious Activity after Drug Bust in Sheffield
- Landlord triumphs in overturning council licensing fine
- Government proposals to introduce transferable lifetime deposits for tenants must include existing innovation warns Hamilton Fraser CEO
- The Government is considering a replacement service for the ill-fated Green Homes Grant to help landlords improve their property
- Landlord in the North of England facing suspended sentence and massive fine after safety breaches relating to a fire.
- Building land: “The government seems deaf to the results of a series of reviews it has itself commissioned”
- Rogue Agents’ Database: still no response to formal consultation
- Arrears Fears Foiled – more evidence that rental sector relatively unchanged
Newsround will be back next week