When writing my Christmas blog last year, who could ever have imagined what the world would have to endure and witness in 2020? Certainly a year which we will all want to put behind us, and one we hope never to experience again.
It is easy to think of 2020 as the year of the pandemic, and one of suffering and loss, something none of us will ever forget. There have been shining lights through all the darkness and a resurgence of a community spirit, lost in the past few years. The kindness and generosity of local communities has risen to the fore, often in the most difficult circumstances. The support of local people by local people has moved us all, one small mercy we can hold on to and take with us as we leave 2020 behind.
This spirit has focused the minds of the public in their support of local businesses ahead of large corporates. Local knowledge and bespoke attention is often something only a small business can provide. We certainly feel that to be the case in the property industry!
The Coronavirus Act has impacted the private rental sector immensely and moved the legal framework on Assured Shorthold Tenancies for both Landlords and Tenants alike. Personally, it feels that the goalposts have shifted on almost a weekly basis, so often in fact that it is difficult to keep up!
2020 has also brought in electrical safety compliance for all Landlords with an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (or EICR), now a legal requirement for all rented property. A brief reminder to landlords, you have until April 2021 to comply, although it is wise not to leave this until the last minute, as electricians are already remarkably busy.
In the past non-compliance would result in a slap on the wrist or risk a small fine; we now live in different times and these failures have far greater implications. The Landlord must now supply evidence to the Tenant of compliance. Failure to do this may affect a Landlord’s right of possession! It has never been more important for a Landlord to be ahead of the legal and compliance requirements than it is right now. As I write this, the Government have released a new “How to Rent Guide”, to be provided to Tenants moving forward. No doubt more compliance document changes on the way too so it’s essential that Landlords keep up to speed.
For those Tenants looking to buy in the future, 2020 also saw the inclusion by lenders of a Tenant’s rental payment history when verifying the financial ability of a borrower. Along with employment status verification, rental payment history is fast becoming the most important tool in assessing credit. A most welcome breakthrough for Tenants that gives hope and structure to many saving to buy their own home.
Whilst writing this blog I must briefly touch on future Carbon Monoxide and Energy Performance Statute. The Government aim to amend the regulations requiring all landlords to install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where a fixed combustion appliance is used (excluding gas cookers). The Government consultation on this is open until 11th January 2021, with all views welcomed by the Government prior to legislation.
Energy Performance is a more controversial topic with the Government seeking to legislate that all Private Rental Sector property be a minimum band C in the coming years. There are Government funds available now by way of grants for those Landlords who wish to get ahead of the curve on this. Comments are welcomed by the Government until the 30th December 2020. Not much time to have your say, so please do visit the consultation website below.
To end my final blog of the year I would like to thank all Pilgrims staff and our maintenance contractors for their diligence and hard work over the last year......often overcoming challenges above the call of duty! Most of all I would like to save the greatest thanks to Pilgrims clients, Landlords and Tenants alike, for their patience and understanding throughout the most difficult of times.
I wish you all an enjoyable Christmas as well as a bright, healthy and prosperous 2021.
Proprietor and Managing Director